Truckers, airlines and their friends on Capitol Hill scrambled yesterday to salvage what they can from the budget deficit-reduction package that for the first time would use fuel and airline taxes for something other than highways and airways development.

The package not only would raise 42 percent of its new revenue from transportation taxes but would channel slightly more than half of the new money directly into general revenue rather than the highway and airway trust funds. The portion that goes into the trust fund still would be subject to spending limitations and, in an era of meager appropriations, would be likely to pile up unspent, technically reducing the deficit.

Transportation Secretary Samuel K. Skinner, who once said he was committed to keeping the trust funds sacrosanct, said he argued with the budget negotiators, but "I don't want to mislead you {that} I was over there falling on my sword for the trust funds."

"While I would have preferred that it all go into infrastructure, it is also important to bring some reason to the deficit problem," Skinner said.

The budget agreement would raise airplane ticket taxes from 8 percent to 10 percent, with the extra going into general revenues. Motor fuel taxes would rise 10 cents per gallon by July 1, 1991, and a 2-cent-per-gallon tax would be imposed on all processed petroleum products, including gasoline. Half that total 12-cent increase would go to the trust funds. Skinner said this is "not the entire enchilada, but at least there's a meal on the plate."

Skinner, as a part of the administration, must be a good soldier in supporting his president, but transportation industries and key members of Congress are not bound by those loyalties.

Several approaches were floated on Capitol Hill yesterday. Almost all contemplated raising taxes but sought ways to preserve the trust funds intact or gain other concessions to mitigate the effect of the new taxes.

Some senior members of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee have developed a plan that would raise taxes but gradually reduce the amount of money going into general revenues over five years until everything is going into the trust fund. Under this plan, the trust funds would be put off-budget so they could be spent without regard to budget limitations.

One Public Works leader acknowledged that idea's slim prospects. "We're not smoking opium up here," he said. "We'll be laughed out of the room." But if the budget resolution is defeated, he said, the leadership might be more inclined to listen.

Airline sources said that industry has largely given up on blocking the tax increases and is concentrating on salvaging the trust fund.

By far the largest industrial effort yesterday was by truckers through the American Trucking Associations.

"I've been deluged with phone calls from truckers all over the country," said Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), ranking minority member of the Public Works subcommittee on surface transportation.

Truckers would be hit with a $2.9 billion tax increase from the 12-cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase. They are particularly upset that their chief competitors, the railroads, would pay only the 2-cent processed petroleum tax. Railroads do not pay tax on fuel on the theory that they own their own tracks and should not have to pay to keep up highways for competing truckers.

Rumors flew yesterday that truckers would try for an immediate increase in allowed truck length and weight as a price for accepting the tax increases. One consumer lobby group, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), put out a press release warning Congress not to "trade lives for the sake of the budget process."

Thomas Donahue, president of the American Trucking Associations, who returned from a trip to Europe to spearhead the lobbying effort, said there is plenty of time later for such fights. "Everybody's scrambling to stay alive," he said. "This is not the time to make deals."

If the taxes are imposed, Donohue said, the ATA will lobby to soften their impact. He said he might seek to impose the same taxes on railroads, barge lines and airlines in the reconciliation process, which would follow adoption of a budget resolution.

Donohue said the trucking industry also has some simple proposals to reduce the paperwork burden of interstate traffic. He said he might ask for legislation to make mandatory the Fuel Tax Compact, under which truckers pay highway taxes in one state that then distributes the funds to other states based on how many miles the trucker drives in those states. However, a third of the states still require direct tax payments through a sticker system.

Richard E. Briggs, executive vice president of The Association of American Railroads (AAR), said railroads also take a number of hits in the budget resolution, including $200 million in extra railroad retirement payments. He said the railroad industry is not lobbying in favor of the budget resolution, as Donohue charged.

"We're not out there trying to raise the truckers' taxes," Briggs said. However, several individual railroads lobbied hard for the resolution.