Private jets make up nearly 20% of US flights but only pay for 2% of FAA funding

Private jets are terrible. That should be a given. I mean I'm sure they're convenient for the people who are wealthy enough to have exploited enough labor, resources, and human rights suffering to become that wealthy in the first place (or who inherited the aforementioned dividends of gross human abuses). But by and large, we can all agree: private jets are a plague on the planet, for a number of reasons.

In case you — by some tragic miracle — were not already convinced of this very obvious fact, the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies recently published a new study, titled High Flyers 2023: How Ultra-Rich Private Jet Travel Costs the Rest of Us and Burns Up Our Planet, full of fun factoids to really drive the point home. For example: we already know that air travel is a major pollutant. And that it thus stands to reason that short distance air transit that serves only a handful of people is uniquely bad for the environment. But this report crunches the numbers to get some specifics, like how private jets emit 10 times more pollutants per passenger than commercial flights, and that private jet emissions overall have increased more than 23% since the COVID-19 pandemic became in earnest in March 2020.

But here's the detail that really frustrated me the most:

Private jets make up approximately one out of every six flights handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but contribute just 2 percent of the taxes that make up the trust fund that primarily funds the FAA. Instead, the majority (roughly 70 percent) of the tax revenue that makes up the aviation trust fund is financed by passengers purchasing commercial air travel. Passengers pay a 7.5 percent tax on the prices of their tickets plus a passenger facility charge of no more than $4.50. Passenger taxes are increasing as flight prices increase. Meanwhile, private jet fliers only pay fuel surcharge taxes — roughly $0.22 per gallon of jet fuel.

Obviously, I know that rich people don't pay their fair share of taxes. And certainly, many rich people keep themselves rich by making other people pick up the tab for the extraordinary costs of their other externalities, so that they can focus their time and money on lobbying the government to make sure that other people bear the financial burden for their externalities. But as this report reminds us, that cost shifting goes beyond income tax (not that most of their wealth even comes in the form of income). They also take advantages of things like, ya know, airport communications and services, and still find ways to stick the rest of us with disproportionate bills.

And who, exactly, are these private jet passengers doing this? Their demographic profiles should not be that surprising:

The median net worth of a full and fractional private jet owner is $190 million and $140 million respectively. They represent 0.0008 percent of the global population. The jet- owning oligarchy is overwhelmingly male, over the age of 50, and concentrated in the industries of banking, finance, and real estate.

Remind me why these rich assholes can't just fly First Class like normal rich assholes?

You can find more hair-pulling private jet revelations at the link below:

High Flyers 2023: How Ultra-Rich Private Jet Travel Costs the Rest of Us and Burns Up Our Planet