"They Pollute. You Pay (Literally)."

"How regular taxpayers are subsidizing the ultra-wealthy's use of climate-polluting private jets."

"Just 70 miles south of Pittsburgh in rural Farmington, Pennsylvania, there is a luxury resort called Nemacolin. Best known as the lavish location where ABC filmed The Bachelor during pandemic lockdowns, the 2,000-acre property hosts three hotels, seven eateries, a casino, two spas, and two golf courses. It also has a private airstrip for guests to land their jets.

Nemacolin’s private airstrip, however, is not that big. (It’s also temporarily out of service). So the resort suggests the nearby Connellsville Airport as another option. It’s a “private airport” just 18 miles away, the website says.

But the Connellsville Airport is not actually a private airport. Despite not hosting any commercial passenger flights, it’s funded primarily by public dollars. And though the airport does host some public benefit—it’s used for mail-carrying flights and agricultural flights, among other things—its major benefit is for ultra-wealthy private jet users looking to avoid the 90-minute drive to Nemacolin from Pittsburgh.

The Connellsville Airport is not an outlier airport. It’s one of almost 3,000 general aviation airports across the country that aren't used by commercial airlines; are used heavily by private jet travelers; and are funded primarily by taxpayers, according to a report released Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and Patriotic Millionaires. (Other high-profile general aviation airports favored by the rich include Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, Reno-Stead Airport; and Bandon State Airport near the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon).

Titled “High-Flyers 2023: How Ultra-Rich Private Jet Travel Costs the Rest of Us and Burns Up Our Planet,” the report highlights several ways private jet owners and users not only benefit from taxes paid by the little people, but avoid paying those same taxes themselves. Overall, the report found, private jet travelers pay just 2 percent of the taxes used to fund the Federal Aviation Administration—despite making up 16 percent of all flights. Meanwhile, the report found, commercial fliers pay about 70 percent of the taxes used to fund the FAA. “In effect, commercial passengers subsidize the carbon and convenience of the High Flyers,” the report authors said."

Emily Atkin and Arielle Samuelson report for HEATED May 2, 2023.

Source: HEATED, 05/03/2023