A bill introduced Tuesday would put a $15 million annual limit on what airlines would have to pay in state fuel taxes. Currently Delta is the only airline buying enough fuel here to benefit from the cap.
The proposal comes from Rep. Mark Burkhalter, the House's second-ranking Republican. He said the cap would only kick in when fuel prices spike, as they have recently. Last year, he said, Delta paid the state $17 million in fuel taxes.
Delta has pointed to high fuel prices for some of its troubles. Last year, the struggling carrier posted a record-setting loss for the airline industry, losing $5.2 billion. It narrowly avoided bankruptcy last fall.
``What we're trying to do is help our airline industry, particularly Delta,'' said Burkhalter, who guessed that the bill would cost the state about $2 million some years in lost revenue. ``It's in Georgia's best interest if Delta is a profitable, viable business.''
A spokesman for Delta did not immediately return calls for comment on the tax bill.
Burkhalter said the bill will see some resistance, particularly from Clayton County, home of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That's because the bill waives local taxes on all jet fuel starting in 2006. The county could levy only local option taxes for education purposes, not sales taxes.
Burkhalter said the county would lose money under his bill but called it a worthy trade-off if it helps return Delta to profitability.
``If Delta goes under, it's a bigger loss to them,'' he said.
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Read House Bill 341