Raising revenue is something governments have to do. There are some services, however, into which most governments choose not to venture with their revenue-raising activities, and in making that choice they are demonstrating their values, their concept of morality or their culture.

For example, meteorological services in all countries are considered to be an essential public utility, and unless organisations demand highly specialist services or tailored forecasts for which they are charged, the cost of running a meteorological service is covered by the government. Just to labour the point, can anyone imagine the converse situation: a government which would only supply hazardous weather warnings to subscribers? The provision of safety is one of the services to its citizens that most governments consider sacrosanct, and meteorological services provide that.

Air traffic control is a safety service for which airlines already pay user fees. But now the UK government is looking at the money-making potential of the essential tool that makes ATC and navigation possible: radio, whether for communication, surveillance or navigation aids. All use the radio frequency spectrum, and the UK government is now proposing to charge for the use of the spectra set aside for aviation and shipping. Comment has been invited. Our comment is a question: has this government no shame?


Source: Flight International