The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (the fees legislation) required the National Park Service to begin collecting fees from operators that conduct air tours over national park units that meet certain criteria. Currently, only Grand Canyon, Haleakala, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks meet the criteria to charge air tour fees. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in cooperation with the Park Service, also regulates air tours over park units pursuant to the National Parks Overflights Act of 1987 and the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000. GAO was asked to (1) assess the Park Service's collection of air tour fees and (2) identify what factors, if any, hinder the collection of air tour fees. GAO is also providing information on the possible expansion of air tour fees to additional park units.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|To enhance the collection of air tour fees, Congress may wish to consider amending the fees legislation or the Air Tour Management Act to reconcile the geographic applicability of the two laws.||While legislation in pending in the 111th Congress that would address a number of issues related to air tour over the national parks, it does not appear that the legislation specifically addresses the issue raised in this matter for congressional consideration.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. In order to improve compliance with air tour fee payments and to help understand the impacts of such fees on air tour operators' businesses, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of FAA to establish a procedure for air tour operators at Grand Canyon National Park to report their air tour information simultaneously to the Park Service and FAA, or ensure that the air tour information is forwarded to the Park Service once it is reported to FAA by air tour operators.|
|Department of Transportation||2. In order to improve compliance with air tour fee payments and to help understand the impacts of such fees on air tour operators' businesses, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of FAA to report to Congress on the effects that air tour fees are likely to have on air tour operators as required by the Air Tour Management Act.|