Monday, December 17, 2007

104th Anniversary of Flight

The Charlotte Observer notes that today is the 104th anniversary of flight!!!!!!!!!

NC celebrates 104th anniversary of Wright brothers' flight

It took less than a minute for Orville and Wilbur Wright to make history.

Monday is the 104th anniversary of the brothers' historic flight in eastern North Carolina. Historians credit the brothers with the world's first sustained powered flight by a heavier-than-air craft.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to gather at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills to remember the humble yet world-changing achievement.

The brothers piloted two successful flights on December 17, 2003, in Kitty Hawk. Orville Wright piloted the first flight, traveling 120 feet in 12 seconds. Later that day, Wilbur Wright flew 852 feet in 59 seconds.

North Carolina uses an image of Orville Wright's historic flight as its license plate logo.

Friday, December 14, 2007

You Definatly Won't Be Flying Alone Over The Holidays

In fact, there's going to be over 47 million people in the air over the holiday break. As always, busy hubs like Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Denver will be the busiest with New York topping the list. Airlines are going to have to be prepared for delays at these big hubs and accomodate passengers who have to endure them. Given the weather in the Midwest and Northeast over the past week, airlines are going to really be expecting delays at some point in the system and not fall back on their patterns of overscheduling, unless they want to further compound the problem.

Check out this BusinessWeek article about how the airlines plan to handle air travelers and which days will be the worst to fly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For Those Traveling This Holiday Season

The Washington Post has a great article offering tips for all those traveling this holiday season.

'Twas the Flight Before Christmas
Airport delays are all but inevitable over the holiday. Nine must-have tips for beating lines, stress, and holdups.

By Joe Brancatelli Business Travel
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; 12:00 AM

The airlines ran about 75 percent on time over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, so the major carriers declared victory and claimed they had done a great service for the American traveling public. And since they didn't find too many wailing families spending Thanksgiving sleeping in chairs at the airport, the major media ran a spate of things-went-better-than-expected stories.

But here's a better way to look at things: Would you be satisfied if FedEx or U.P.S. delivered one out of every four of your parcels late? How eager would you be to eat at a restaurant that delivered one of your entrées late and cold when your party of four arrived for a meal? What if your dry cleaner returned only 75 percent of your clothes?

The brutal reality of holiday travel is that you run a good chance of being late, missing a connection, and otherwise being inconvenienced by the nation's air-travel system. So if you're planning to hit the road during the next month, when inexperienced leisure travelers will far outnumber grizzled business fliers, you need to plan tactically and do everything you can to control your destiny.

Fly Early in the Day

Government statistics show that flights scheduled to depart and arrive early in the day have the best on-time performance. But relative timeliness isn't the only reason to fly early: If your selected flight is canceled, there are more flights remaining for you to get rebooked on. Conversely, book an evening flight and you're subject to longer delays, and then you may not get another flight that day if your original one is canceled.

Do More Online

Airlines offer online seat selection and check-in up to 24 hours before departure. Use it. Having your seat assignment and boarding pass before you leave for the airport eliminates two of the major stress factors of holiday travel. It will also allow you to bypass a third stress point-the checked-luggage line-because most carriers now offer fast-bag-drop stations for travelers who've used online check-in.

Carry On Less

The government imposes a two-item limit for carry-on bags. But airlines reserve the right to force you to check one of the carry-ons on full flights. There's a good chance holiday flights will be full, so consider traveling with just one carry-on bag.

Check Fewer Bags

The major carriers are now cracking down on excess-weight bags and charging up to $100 for luggage above the 50 pounds you get for free. Try shipping your belongings instead. U.P.S., FedEx, and specialty bag-handling firms offer cost-effective options. They'll pick up your bag at your home or office and ship it directly to your hotel or final destination.

Ship Your Presents

Reduce your load further by sending your gifts by mail, an overnight courier, or a package service. It may cost a few dollars, but the stuff will get there, and you won't have to carry it. And abandon all hope of taking gifts as carry-ons. First of all, they will count against your carry-on limit. Second, wrapped presents will be unwrapped and examined if their contents can't be verified by the X-ray machines at security.

Win the Ground War

Don't risk missing your flight because of a ground delay. Roads to, from, and inside the airport and airport parking lots are clogged with traffic during the holidays, so allow more time than usual. And remember: In-airport lots will be filled to overflowing, so use an off-airport private lot instead. All offer shuttle service directly to departure terminals; many offer perks like car washes and oil changes. Alternatively, take a car service or taxi to the airport. And trust me on this: Do not rely on friends or family for transportation. The holiday season is stressful enough. Why dump the extra grief of an airport run on anyone-especially people you care about?

Prepare for the Inevitable Delays

The long lines-and all the extra time you'll have if everything goes swiftly-are less annoying if you're prepared. Bring plenty to read and lots of music and videos. If you're traveling with kids, make sure you've got a supply of games, toys, and snacks. If you're traveling with infants, have more than enough diapers and food. You won't find this kind of stuff at most airport shops. And accept the fact that there may be unexpected security delays and diversions: Abrupt closures of terminals or entire airports for real or imagined security breaches have been a regular occurrence during the past several Christmas seasons.

Pack Rations

No one likes airline food, so why complain about the carriers' not giving it away anymore? Instead, pack a sandwich, fruit, and several bags of nuts, or a supply of energy or protein bars. And don't scrimp on water. Airline travel is dehydrating, and you should drink at least eight ounces of water for every hour of flying. You can't carry water through security, so pick up several bottles from the shops inside the "sterile" area beyond the screening checkpoints. Do not assume you'll get all the beverages you need in-flight. Flight attendants won't come down the aisles often enough to suit your needs.

Hide Out in the Club

If you've got a long layover between flights or are faced with an unexpected delay, consider joining an airline's club network. The clubs are relatively quiet oases in the maelstrom of airports during the holiday season, and most airlines sell day passes for about $50. Your sanity is worth the relatively small investment.

The Fine Print

Take a psychic tip from a 30-year veteran of the road: Leave your emotional baggage behind. It won't clear security anyway. It may sound silly, but if you come to a flight with a positive mind-set, your chances of having a good experience improve. Come to the airport stressed and strung out and you're almost sure to have a bad flight.

* * *

Monday, December 10, 2007

AAAA Applauds Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

The Alliance for Aviation Across America released this statement regarding Kay Bailey Hutchinson's appointment as the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Alliance for Aviation Across America Applauds Senator Hutchison’s Appointment to be the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee

Washington , DC – Today the Alliance for Aviation Across America issued the following statement in response to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s appointment to be the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“We are pleased with Senator Hutchison’s return to the leadership of the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Hutchison has been an effective leader on aviation issues, and we look forward to working with her on the important and impending issue of modernization of our air traffic control system, as well as other issues impacting small business owners and rural communities across the country that depend on general aviation.” Hutchison has been appointed to the position following the retirement of the Subcommittee's current ranking member, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MI), who has announced that he will resign from the Senate by year's end.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Stick To Your Guns!!!!

The DOT needs to do what it said it was going to do, be aggressive in its enforcement and fine chronically late airlines.

According to the Seattle Times:

"The department should have fined American Airlines as much as $50,000 for operating two flights that were chronically delayed throughout the first nine months of this year, according to data analyzed by The Associated Press.

"That's what the agency said it would do when it began investigating late flights in May. It identified 25 chronically delayed flights through the first six months of 2007, and said carriers that did not improve in the third quarter would face fines of up to $25,000 per violation."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't Let the Airlines Fool You!

Despite airline delays falling in October, 2007 has still been the second-worse year for delays.

Airline Delays Fall in October


WASHINGTON — The airline industry's on-time performance through the first 10 months of this year was the second worst on record, but delays in October fell compared with a year ago, according to the Transportation Department.

Additionally, some carriers avoided fines for chronically delayed flights by improving their performance in the third quarter, the department said.

The nation's 20 largest carriers reported an on-time arrival rate of 78.2 percent in October, up from 72.9 percent in the same month a year ago, but down from 81.7 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

In October, 39.8 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 40.4 percent in the same month last year, but up from 34.2 percent in September.

Despite the improved October results, about 24 percent of flights arrived late in the first 10 months of the year. The industry's on-time performance this year was the second worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, coming in one-tenth of 1 percent better than the first 10 months of 2000.

Nearly 64 percent of flights on Atlantic Southeast Airlines were delayed in October. The Delta Connection carrier, which is owned by SkyWest Inc., had the lowest on-time arrival rate, followed by Alaska Airlines at 70.1 percent and Comair at 74.4 percent. Comair had three flights that were delayed by at least 15 minutes more than 90 percent of the time.

Still, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters on Monday said six airlines that operated chronically delayed flights in the first half of the year improved their performance in the third quarter and avoided fines of up to $25,000 per violation. The department in May began investigating flights that were at least 15 minutes late more than 70 percent of the time and identified 26 that met those criteria through the first six months of 2007.

"Tough scrutiny and a willingness to impose serious penalties have caused the airlines to correct these chronically delayed flights," Peters said in a release.

The airline data come on the heels of a storm system that delayed hundreds of flights into the New York City area's three main airports _ John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia _ for as long as two hours Sunday because of wind and ice. When the storm hit the Midwest on Saturday, airlines at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport canceled hundreds of flights, a scene mirrored at airports in Des Moines and Milwaukee.

Federal aviation regulators in October held a two-day summit aimed at fixing "epidemic" delays at JFK, which had the third-worst on-time arrival record of any major U.S. airport through October, behind LaGuardia and Newark.

The government has proposed alleviating delays by reducing JFK's hourly flight limit by 20 percent. But the airline industry's trade group and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs JFK, both prefer flight-path changes and improvements aimed at increasing the airport's capacity.

Customer complaints rose to 1,096 in October compared with 629 in the same month last year, according to the government data. But the rates of mishandled baggage fell to about 5.4 reports per 1,000 passengers from 7.5 reports a year ago.

Not all airlines performed poorly in October. Hawaiian Holdings Inc.'s Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rate at 94.6 percent, followed by Aloha Airlines at 91.5 percent and Frontier Airlines at 84.4 percent, according to government data.

The Bush administration and the Federal Aviation Administration last month announced a number of initiatives, including temporary use of military airspace off the Atlantic coast, to try and help with the Thanksgiving rush. But delays were up during the holiday week compared with last year due mainly to bad weather.

The airlines and the FAA are pressing for a new, satellite-based air traffic control system that will cost about $15 billion and take nearly 20 years to complete to help improve operations. The FAA in late August awarded ITT Corp. a contract worth up to $1.8 billion to build the first portion the system.

Monday, December 3, 2007

NY Comptroller Addresses Economic Impact of NYC Delays

A recent report by the New York Comptroller William Thompson details the economic impact of the delays and cancellations that plague the three major New York airports.

Among the key findings from Thompson’s report:

- On time performance for New York Airports is 13 percentage points below the national average at just 60%.

- The average taxi-out time is between 28 and 36 minutes at the three major airports.

- New York’s airports have among the highest flight cancellation rates.

Yet Thompson also takes time to address general aviation in the NYC area. Andrew on does a great job of addressing the concerns Comptroller Thompson has about general aviation in the area. Read his post HERE.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Encourage Others to Join the Alliance for Aviation Across America!

As you know, no progress in the fight against user fees can happen without help from all of our members. We are always looking to build our membership base to add voices in support of general aviation and all who rely on it. Encourage your friends, family, co-workers, fellow pilots, etc to sign up and help us keep our industry strong. Sign-up is free and very easy. You can direct them to our membership page via the link below.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Help Fight User Fees at Palm Beach Airport

The Palm Beach Airport thinks that by enacting user fees they can reduce congestion, but they are dead wrong. Congestion will subside when the airlines reform their own practice. Read these letters-to-the-Editor, in the Palm Beach Post explaining how user fees are a bad idea and how general aviation is a boon the local economy.

Small planes pay fuel taxes but always get short shrift

JEFF RAMSDEN, president

South Florida Business Aviation Association

West Palm Beach


The Nov. 9 letter, "Freeloading general aviation sucks money from airport," totally missed the boat. First of all, general aviation contributes through a tax on fuel. These fuel taxes are ultimately reinvested in these airports and not only pay for maintenance and improvements for general aviation but for commercial airlines and their passengers as well.

In addition, nationally, at the busiest airports, general aviation comprises less than 4 percent of total traffic. The truth is that general aviation is the one that is consistently pushed out of airports for commercial service. Take Miami International Airport as an example. The big commercial airlines are the ones that refuse to provide many smaller communities with commercial air service altogether. In fact, Essential Air Service and Small Community Air Service from the government are specifically aimed at giving the airlines a financial incentive to serve small communities, such as Melbourne, that they otherwise would ignore.

Last, small businesses that rely on general aviation at PBIA are essential to the citizens and economy of the surrounding community and beyond. With revenue from the goods and employment from the businesses that use PBIA, many new businesses have profited in the area, benefiting both business owners and citizens alike. To suggest that small-plane owners and pilots contribute nothing to the community does these men and women a severe disservice.


General aviation makes huge contribution to PBIA


West Palm Beach

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In reference to "Freeloading general aviation sucks money from airport" (Nov. 9 letter), as an employee for multiple Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) or general aviation facilities at Palm Beach International Airport since 1980, I would like to share my views.

General or corporate aviation is probably one of the most misunderstood segments of business by the general public. There are three FBOs at PBIA which make significant contributions not only to the county but the state and federal government. These revenues are generated from fees attached to the 17 million gallons of jet fuel sold annually. For every gallon sold, the airport gets a portion of the proceeds. These fees contribute about $6 million annually to the airport. In addition to fuel fees, the three FBO facilities pay in excess of $6 million a year in rent.

General aviation businesses employ more than 350 people in good-paying jobs with benefits. If we were to approach the county collectively, they would be paying general aviation companies to bring these jobs to this county. Corporate aircraft bring the executives and CEOs of major corporations to Palm Beach. They are not going to bring executives to an airport (North County) and waste an additional 45 minutes driving to their destination. Not when time is money to these people.

The FBOs are a vital economic engine and they receive no credit for it. The general aviation companies at PBIA have invested time (most of them 20 years) and tremendous sums of money to build their businesses into what they are today. Support the businesses that support this county.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Travel Thoughts

The majority of travelers have returned from their trips for the Thanksgiving holiday and those lucky few that have not are still concerned about the flight home. Given the attention paid to the past week in terms of the delays, one might be relieved to hear about no major passenger strandings over the extended weekend and consider the weekend a "victory" for the airlines.

The fact is that the airlines continued the same sub-standard performance that has made the news throughout the summer. According to an article in the New York Times, the average on-time rate at the top 25 airports was 80 percent on Saturday and 71 percent on Sunday, said. Flights returning on Monday were not faring too well either. According to Meara McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for, by 3:00pm ET on Monday "30 percent of the nation’s top airports had a less than 60 percent on-time arrival rate." Weather problems on Monday in places like Atlanta and the Northeast didn't help.

As passengers, we need to ask ourselves: if mediocrity (or in some cases sub-standard) is acceptable after paying hundreds for a ticket? Travel blogger Joe Brancatelli - of the subscription-based - puts it perfectly: "Airlines were running about 70 percent on time, and suddenly it’s described as a victory?" The airlines obviously need pressure put on them from not only the passengers, but the DOT as well if on-time performance is to improve.

70% is unnacceptable, even for holidays. The airlines must address their delay problem before the problem gets worse.

Take a look at Joe Sharkey's analysis of the Thanksgiving holiday travel situation HERE.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cattle Class

Read this New York Times column about how the airlines treat their customers in coach. It's scary, but we all knew that. Also read this quote from Spirit Airlines CEO, it sums up the airlines' attitude toward customers nicely.

“Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I’m concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.” - Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can They Do It On Their Own?

Well holiday travel seems to have gone better than expected, that's something new for a change. Now, if only the airlines could that on their own; not under threat from the federal government and without the military's express air lanes. Hopefully they will have enough regard for their customers to make travel easier on their own, but from the airlines' track record it doesn't seem likely.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Heads Up Everyone!

The holiday flying weather just keeps getting better and better...NOT! Here's a a link to the FAA's Flight Delay Information website which will give you everything you need to know about flying this Thanksgiving holiday. It's going to be wet and stormy, so check this often.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Holiday flights off to a bad start...

Monday has not been a good day for travelers who have flights booked for the holiday season. A single piece of luggage that missed a scan delayed nearly 2,000 travelers in Arizona. Power issues in Texas, weather in Southern California, and fog in Atlanta also delayed passengers. New York, already the focus of Congress and President Bush, faced wet and windy weather, adding to the concern about on-time performance on the East Coast.

Remember: arrive at the airport early, do not bring wrapped presents (they could be unwrapped as they pass security), and monitor the status of your flight.

Read about Monday's flight delays HERE.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Get The Flick

Check out this great aviation blog "Get The Flick" by former ATC Don Brown. He gets the delays problem is the airline's fault and is not afraid to say it!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DOT Criticized Over Lack of Response to Passenger Complaints

Given the terrible on-time record the airlines have sported in the past year, one would hope they would at least be punished for it. According a USA Today article however, the consumer protection rules governed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are not being enforced nearly enough. USA Today stated that customer complaints - usually revolving around poor customer service, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, etc - were up 70% in September and skyrocketed during the months of July and August.

Since the airlines have shown precious little motivation in improving their scheduling to benefit their passengers, the DOT should aggressively enforce the rules that are in place to protect the flying public. That way, the airlines will have to put their passengers as a priority rather than their quarterly earnings.

Read the entire USA Today article here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Check To See If You'll Be Delayed

Here are some websites that can help you predict if your flight will be delayed this holiday season. Also, for a better travel experience make sure to have the customer service number of your airline and to arrive very (very) early.

USA Today


Weather Channel




Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteren's Day

We here at the Alliance would like to express our deepest thanks to all of the veterans who have served in the conflicts America has engaged in. We would also like to specifically thank many veterans who still use their skills to serve citizens in medical and emergency areas. Some pilots have been mentioned in articles flying with such organizations as Angel Flight. Here are just a couple veteren pilots who are still flying high.

Les Stilwel

Air Compassion for Veterans

We always like to highlight the volunteer work of general aviation pilots. If you see a story featuring a general aviation pilot, please forward it onto us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thank You Dr. House

Thank you Dr. House for doing all you can to ensure that those who live in rural communities get the best medical care possible.


Local pilots grounded for airline tax cut

Todd House

In rural Kentucky, tiny hospitals are struggling to survive. Most small communities have a drastic shortage of doctors in specialty areas, such as anesthesiology. These doctors tend to locate themselves in large cities, where they can make the most of their practice. But without an anesthesiologist a hospital cannot perform surgery, and without surgery these small hospitals will not be able to find the funds to stay in business. This is one of the reasons why healthcare in small and secluded communities is so notoriously difficult to obtain.

As an anesthesiologist and a pilot, I feel fortunate that I am able to help fill this shortage. I use my plane to reach patients in remote locations, thereby keeping both individual patients and hospitals alive. While an anesthesiologist sent by a larger company would have to use a commercial airline to fly to a large airport, and then rent a car in order to reach a remote location, my small airplane allows me to fly directly into rural communities, cutting hours off of the time thereby making my service more immediately available to patients in need.

Many pilots in Kentucky use aviation as a means to compete in the business world, and also as a way to give back to their communities through volunteer and charity organizations such as Angel Flight. Organizations like Angel Flight are made up of dedicated and giving members; but with the cost of airplane operation and ownership soaring they find themselves more and more financially restrained from helping those in desperate need of the scarce service only they can provide with their flying skills and airplanes.

Unfortunately, the airlines’ latest attempt to pad their bottom line is threatening this service and all of general aviation. Under the guise of modernizing our air traffic control system, the airlines are attempting to shift their tax obligations onto the shoulders of general aviation. They would do this through the institution of costly new taxes and fees called “user fees.”

They justify this massive tax cut for their airline industry by saying that this will somehow relieve delays - ones that are caused by their own business model of jam-packing thousands of flights into hub airports at rush hour. But, any passenger who has flown lately knows better. In addition, the airline’s proposal would add great financial burdens to business and private aviation which will adversely impact the business and volunteer work of many pilots like me. If this occurs, the economic impact on rural communities and thousands of needy patients will be devastating.

Thankfully, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has rejected the user fee system and drafted a bill that keeps the current, dependable funding structure intact. This proposal recently reached the House floor and was successfully passed.

The Senate Finance Committee also drafted and passed a similar proposal which also rejected the user fee plan and allows pilots to use the same, equitable “pay-at-the-pump” system which has been proven to generate more than adequate funding levels for modernization. But the fight to protect general aviation is not yet over. The bill will now move into the full Senate where all Senators will have the chance to do their part to fund modernization as well as keep the general aviation industry and local communities strong.

As the bill moves to the Senate floor, pilots in Kentucky and across the U.S. are depending upon Senator Bunning and Senator McConnell to support the Finance Committee’s recommendation and stand up for the small communities and businesses across Kentucky.

— Todd House, M.D.

Todd House is an anesthesiologist and local pilot who logs more than 200 flight hours per year. He is an Angel Flight volunteer and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America. Made up of small businesses, elected officials, charities, non-profit groups, and grassroots organizations, the Alliance for Aviation Across America speaks out for general aviation interests across Kentucky and beyond as well as promoting a fair and equitable funding structure to keep our skies safe and secure.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Addressing your concerns

In a recent posting in "The Flight Blog," we heard some concerns being voiced over the potential "user fee" threat to general aviation. As you know, the threat of user fees on GA is has been the primary focus of AAAA members since our inception.

User fees are a threat to general aviation and we are continuing to fight them in any form but the difference in this battle has been our vocal members. When the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was drafting their bill, our members flooded House offices with their concerns about the potential user fees that could be included. As a result of your vocal opposition to user fees, the House drafted H.R. 2881 without them.

The Senate Finance Committee also drafted their own bill as well...without user fees. This is a very positive step for all members of GA but we cannot rest on these bills thinking the fight is over. We are closely monitoring the movements of both the House and the Senate to see what will happen next. While user fees do not seem to be on the immediate horizon, we want to make sure they don't come up in another form.

Keep checking in to our website for updates and more ways you can make your voice heard! With your help, we can keep user fees out of the legislation!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The FAA Knew All Along...

FAA Follies proves the airlines knew about the delay problem and could have solved it a long time ago.

"The 12 members of the FAA’s Capacity Modeling and Analysis Group saw it coming. The team, based at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J., has studied every large and medium-sized airport in the United States, using numerical models that simulate the movement of aircraft from the air onto taxiways and runways. Their job is to provide the information necessary to recognize what procedures and characteristics (e.g. gates) cause congestion and delays in the nation’s airspace and airports. Just what to do with that information is up to the airports.

"Years ago, the Analysis Group foresaw the record delays that would occur in summer 2007"

Monday, November 5, 2007

1 out of 4 Flights Delayed in 2007; Worst in 13 Years

The Department of Transportation (DOT) released the September on-time performance of the major airlines today and the results are still not good for travelers. While the on-time performance of the airlines improved in September, 20% of flights still did not arrive on time.

According to an Associated press article, "more than 24% of flights arrived late in the first nine months of the year. The industry's on-time performance this year remained the worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995."

This is disheartening to many travelers looking forward to returning home and visiting family during the upcoming holiday season.

Read the Associated Press article here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Coloradans concerned about new fees & taxes on GA

According to Vernon Tryon, chairman of the Fort Morgan airport advisory committee, extra fees and taxes levied on general aviation would negatively impact the community, both economically and in other ways.

Mr. Tryon observed that the airport is often used to transport medical patients and doctors, and adding more taxes will only increase the cost of health care.

Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CNN Video Tapes Delays

CNN sent a news crew on a flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to JFK in order to document the airlines' outrageous delays.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Profile of an Angel Flight volunteer

Here's a great article about someone who is taking advantage of his retirement to make a difference in California. As a volunteer for Angel Flight, Jerre McClelland has made more than 600 trips since 1992, flying hundreds of patients and their families.

Mr. McClelland recently received a Wingman award from Angel Flight West. Click here to read more.

Monday, October 29, 2007

GA Makes A Difference

We all know how much GA makes a difference in people's lives but it is always nice to read these stories. Grace Flight, a company that provides air travel for those in need, flew 13 year-old Andrew Madden and his doctor to Boston for game 2 of the World Series. Andrew won the tickets from his doctor, who promised them to him if he pulled through heart transplant surgery...which he did.

Here's the Article from Aero-News:

Grace Flight Transports Young Heart Patient To World Series

Sat, 27 Oct '07

Recovery Room Bet Leads To Fenway Park

Here's a story with a lot of heart... from everyone involved. An Odessa, TX teen was able to live his dream of attending a World Series game, with a little help from Grace Flight of America, his doctor, and the Boston Red Sox.

Andrew Madden, 13, made a bet with fellow Boston Red Sox fan Dr. Kristine Guleserian in the cardiology ward of the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, TX: If he pulled through heart transplant surgery and the difficult recuperation process, she'd treat him to a Red Sox World Series game.

"It was just kinda something to hope for," Madden told the Boston Herald. "(Something) to get my mind off how I was sick and the surgery and everything."

Madden received his new heart September 30... and Thursday night, both doctor and young patient enjoyed watching Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park, in a suite donated by Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. Nonprofit group Grace Flight of America flew the two -- along with Andrew's mom, Lauri Wemmer -- to Boston on a private jet.

Madden even threw out the first pitch.

The teen credits Dr. Guleserian for assisting in his quick recovery. "She’s amazing," Madden said. "That’s really been the true experience, just getting to meet her and have her as a friend."

"First we’d talk on what was going on in baseball," added Guleserian, "and then it was 'how are you feeling?'"

And speaking of that, Madden told reporters Thursday "I feel great. I have a lot of energy!"

So did his beloved Red Sox... who will take a two-game series lead to Denver, after beating the Colorado Rockies 2-1 Thursday night.

Nice job, everybody.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Airline tax break putting flight students at risk

In a column in the Rocky Mountain News, David Cole of Colorado Northwestern Community College argues that proposed new fees and taxes on general aviation would cripple the industry, making aviation careers less appealing to potential students.

Cole writes, "This would eventually reduce the number of trained pilots available to work in our state, harming the businesses that rely on planes to serve customers in rural areas, and even the airlines themselves."

Click here for the full story.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DOT To Fine Late Airlines

It looks like the Department of Transportation is going to start fining "chronically late airlines" reports the Associated Press. It's about time the DOT did something about delays that will really send a message to the airlines - go after their bottom line.

Unfortunately the airlines may just pass the cost off to their customers...

Chronically late airlines could face US fines

Carriers criticize government's threat of penalties

WASHINGTON - Airlines that operate chronically delayed flights could face stiff fines in the coming weeks as the government concludes a six-month investigation into potentially deceptive business practices.

The Transportation Department in May began investigating flights that are at least 15 minutes late more than 70 percent of the time, and so far has identified 26 that meet those criteria, an agency spokesman said yesterday.

If any of those 26 flights also were delayed in the most recent quarter being reviewed, the responsible airlines will face "significant financial penalties," agency spokesman Brian Turmail said. Results of the investigation are expected within weeks.

The commercial airlines trade group criticized the government's possible penalties.

"No one has greater incentive to move its flights on time than the airlines," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, because they cost the industry $6 billion per year and it means "we fail our customers." But the answer is not eliminating flights from the chronically delayed list, which are there based on customer demand, he added.

The Federal Aviation Administration handles roughly 85,000 flights per day, a number predicted to reach more than 111,000 flights by 2020.

But delays this summer reached record levels.

The Transportation Department earlier this month said more than 25 percent of domestic flights arrived late between January and August - easily the industry's worst performance since comparable data began being collected in 1995.

In August alone, 23 flights were late at least 90 percent of the time, and more than 100 flights were late at least 80 percent of the time. Almost half of Atlantic Southeast Airlines' flights were delayed, and two arrived late every time they took off.

Kristen Loughman, a spokeswoman for ASA - a Delta Connection carrier owned by SkyWest Inc. - said the company was unaware of any fines being considered by the government. Any Atlantic Southeast flight on the Transportation Department's monthly report of delays becomes its top priority to fix, she added.

Other airlines that operated flights that were late at least 90 percent of the time in August were: ExpressJet Holdings Inc., which flies regional service for Continental Airlines Inc.; SkyWest Inc.; AirTran Holdings Inc.; and Delta Air Lines Inc. and its subsidiary Comair Inc.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Airlines in denial

These two quotes say it all. The airlines are still refusing to acknowledge the fact that they have caused delays by overscheduling flights into and out of JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia.

"We're not sure just reducing commercial operations will have any significant impact on delays." - David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association

“When publishing schedules that offer 61 departing flights between 8 and 9 a.m. — when the airport can handle only 44 departures — is not fair to fliers.” -Mary Peters, Secretary of the Department of Transportation

Monday, October 22, 2007

Department of Transportion to Try to Fix Delays at JFK

The Department of Transportation wants to alleviate some of the delays at JFK by capping the number of flights in and out of the overcrowded airport. Guess what the airlines want? To stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem just disappears.

Full article in The Wall Street Journal:

JFK Flights May Be Capped

October 22, 2007; Page A10

WASHINGTON -- Ahead of a meeting next week with airlines, the Department of Transportation said it will seek to reduce the number of scheduled flights at New York's Kennedy airport by as much as 20% during peak rush hours next year in a bid to relieve congestion.

In August, more than 100 flights were scheduled during certain hours at Kennedy Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Next year, the agency is aiming to cap that at around 80 flights.

JFK is last in on-time departures so far this year among major airports, and near bottom in arrivals, according to DOT statistics. The FAA singled out the airport for scheduling reductions last month.

In recent weeks, FAA officials have increasingly pointed to overscheduling by airlines as a leading cause of delays, which have soared to record levels amid increasing demand for air travel this year. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the agency would rather not impose scheduling restrictions -- a move that can leave consumers with fewer choices during popular travel times -- but said inaction on the part of airlines left regulators with little choice.

"Our strong preference is to develop market-based solutions that will address delays and preserve passenger choice," Ms. Peters said in a statement. "But we will consider scheduling reductions as a last resort in order to prevent a repeat of this summer's nightmare delays."

A trade group representing airlines objected to the move. "This is a disappointing decision. Slashing operations at JFK alone will not solve the congestion problem but will shut the door on growth for our country's leading international gateway," said James May, CEO of the Air Transport Association. "We know that there are better solutions to New York's capacity needs and we are committed to working with FAA to put them into effect."

Airlines say the high-level of scheduling during certain hours reflects consumer demand, and they are pushing to get the FAA to redesign New York's airspace to improve efficiency in the region. That effort is proceeding slowly amid objection from local communities. Airlines are also hoping to convince the military to open restricted airspace during periods of bad weather to free up additional airways.

Next week, the FAA will meet individually with each carrier operating at JFK to determine exactly how many flights they can operate during rush hours. It is shaping up to be the most contentious round of scheduling negotiations since a similar process for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport dragged on for two weeks in 2004.

The Chicago round of negotiations mostly involved two dominant carriers, United Airlines and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines. The situation at JFK is more complicated and involves many domestic and international carriers, suggesting the talks could stretch for several weeks.

The FAA would likely seek to apportion any cuts in the number of flights equally among carriers.

Write to Christopher Conkey at

Friday, October 19, 2007

High profits for airlines, but what about customer service?

Several news reports this week have commented on the fact that the airlines earned huge profits this summer while flight delays soared.

CBS puts it this way: "Worst Summer Ever For Passengers Results In Banner Quarter For Carriers."

The Los Angeles Times tells a similar story: "Despite the worst summer ever for air travelers, major airlines posted huge profits as they packed more passengers into fewer and smaller planes."

Click here, or here to read more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Great Day for GA in Fredricksburg, VA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fredericksburg, VA is hopefully going to get their first sport pilot program (pending a successful pitch to the Stafford Regional Airport Authority). GA is vital to the economy of rural America and any new program that will train pilots serves to strengthen that economy. Good Luck Fredericksburg; hopefully you'll be flying soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A former Senator speaks out

Yesterday's blog post highlighted the importance of general aviation to small businesses - here we have another column attesting to the value that GA can have on a state's economy. Former U.S. Senator Jake Garn writes that Utah's businesses "serve as a shining example of how small companies can positively impact local communities and the state as a whole."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

AP Shows How GA Helps Small Business

Check out this AP article, it highlights how GA helps small business.

"There are also cases where a plane has helped save a business.

"Richard Shine, who owns Manitoba Corp., a metal recycling business outside of Buffalo, N.Y., credits his plane with just that. Starting in the 1970s, companies in upstate New York that once provided scrap metal to Manitoba started moving their businesses elsewhere. To expand the company's supply base, Shine began using a small plane, in which he owned a half-interest, to find new suppliers.

"Since then, the company has bought a bigger plane -- a Mitsubishi Mu-2 Solitaire -- and now makes the aircraft a major part of its marketing materials.

"'We think of it as the same as having another sales person on staff," said Shine, a former Air Force pilot. "It costs about the same, but it doesn't complain and it's almost always willing to work.'"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weathering delays

The Washington Post has a brief column about weather-related air travel delays - click here for the whole story.

The airlines refuse to compensate passengers if delays are due to factors outside their control - such as weather. Unfortunately, their hub-and-spoke system means that a thunderstorm in one part of the country can cause delays on the opposite coast. Outside their control? You be the judge.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Another Great Blog

To all you Aviation Across America Blog readers - check out Robert Mark at Jetwhine ( - another ally in the defense of general aviation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A 7 Hour Wait?!

One would think that after all the delays and complaints about the airlines trapping passengers in airplanes for hours on end they would learn. Well, these are the airlines...

Check out this article from the USA Today:

US Airways flight stuck on tarmac for 7 hours


PHOENIX (AP) — Passengers on a US Airways flight from New York to Phoenix spent nearly 7 hours sitting on the tarmac waiting for bad weather to clear, finally arriving nearly six hours late, and presumably a whole lot grumpier.

Flight 17 from John F. Kennedy International Airport was due to leave at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but didn't actually take off until about 1 a.m., airline spokesman Phil Gee said.

Dozens of other aircraft were delayed because of a storm passing through the area, which closed the airport for about 90 minutes.

Gee said the plane pushed back from the gate at 6:30 p.m. ET and spent hours sitting on the tarmac so it wouldn't lose its takeoff slot.

The plane finally went back to the gate to refuel, but then resumed its wait for a takeoff slot. Several passengers decided to get off the plane while it was being refueled.

Flight 17 finally arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport at about 2:45 a.m. MT Wednesday. Once they had taken off, the pilots shaved some time off the scheduled 5 hour flight.

The incident comes nine months after Congress was flooded with complaints from passengers left sitting on airplanes for hours last winter. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would prohibit airlines from keeping travelers stuck on the tarmac for longer than three hours in February.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Delays "out of control" - Sen. Schumer

Senator Charles Schumer, speaking at a news conference in Rochester, echoed the feelings of many Americans when he said that air travel delays have become "off the chart and out of control." (link)

With the airlines pushing more and more flights into hub airports, Sen. Schumer charged the FAA with a failure to regulate congestion. Schumer also called the development of a new air traffic control system a "crucial step."

Why, then, are the commercial airlines opposing a bill that would provide historic levels of funding for modernizing our national air traffic control system?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Inaccurate flight information on airline websites

As frequent fliers know all too well, one's flight can be delayed for hours before an explanation is given - if it ever is! With information often hard to come by at the airport, many turn to the Internet for flight information. According to today's Wall Street Journal, "In these days of long delays, flight tracking and flight status alerts have become important tools for travelers." (link)

Unfortunately, as we find all too often when dealing with the major airlines, the information they provide is often outdated, misleading, or just plain wrong. Check out this Wall Street Journal article for a few examples - such as when a flight delayed by four hours was described on the airline's website as arriving twelve minutes early.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Aviation Week Gets It Right!!!!!

Aviation Week Says GA Not Causing Delays!!!!!!!!

Controllers Say Bizjets Not Causing Delays in New York Area

By David Hughes

A group of National Air Traffic Control Assn. union officials say that short staffed ATC facilities and airline over scheduling are causing air traffic delays in the New York City area, not business jet flights.

The Air Transport Assn. has been claiming that the bizjets operating out of Teterboro, a main business jet hub airport, are not taking their fair share of delays -- adding to airline woes.

NATCA Eastern Regional Vice President Phil Barbarello says it's not true that business jets are causing delays in the New York area because they have "separate arrival fixes and separate airspace when they enter the New York Terminal Radar Control (TRACON) area, and they don't impede air carriers." In fact, he added, bizjet arrivals are often restricted to accommodate airline arrivals at Newark.

Eddie Kragh, the NATCA facility representative at the Newark tower, says this airport has a very restricted capacity of 22 departures per half hour. But on Oct. 2, between 9 and 9:30 a.m., the airport had scheduled 33 departures to deal with. This amounts to an "automatic built-in delay" for 11 aircraft he adds.

NATCA President Patrick Forrey say his union believes delays will continue to increase next year ion the New York area. He echoed Kragh in saying airlines over scheduling there and around the nation is part of the problem.

Air carrier operations have grown in the New York area by 14% over the past five years while general aviation activity has shrunk 9%, according to Forrey. At Newark and LaGuardia only 3.5% of departures involve general aviation traffic while at John F. Kennedy International it is only 1.7%. ATA's claim about bizjets in the New York area is a "fallacy and a distraction from the real issues," Forrey concludes.

As always, NATCA continues to harp on controller shortages as one of two key reasons for delays in the New York area and nationwide. Dean Iacopelli, the NATCA representative at the New York TRACON, says prior to Sept., 2006, the FAA authorized this facility to be staffed by 270 certified air traffic controllers. Now the authorized number has been reduced to a maximum of 188 "based solely on budget." Iacopelli says this is the lowest staffing level in 10 years when the New York Tracon is facing the highest volume of traffic ever at JFK.

Barrett Byrnes, the NATCA representative at the JFK tower, says is now handling 1,400 operations per day (up 40%) with a controller workforce that has shrunk from 37 to 25 for round the clock operations. And one more controller is due to leave this year while five of the most senior ones face mandatory retirement next year while six more will probably choose to retire voluntarily, he says.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Air travel problems must be fixed before 2020

As seen yesterday on this blog, the airlines like to blame our air traffic control system for any problem that arises. While all segments of aviation agree that modernizing ATC is very important, the NextGen system "is not likely to significantly improve air travel until 2020." (link)

Are passengers expected to put up with delays like this summer's for more than a decade? It's time for the airlines to step up to the plate and help solve the problem - in 2007, not 2020. Putting an end to overscheduling would be a good starting point.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

What Will The Airlines Think of Next?

The Aero-News Network is reporting that that the airlines are trying to blame lost luggage on air traffic control system.

"Somewhat curiously -- given the airlines themselves made this decision -- carriers also blame luggage woes on the abundance of regional aircraft, which can't carry as many bags as their larger mainline brethren.

"The Air Transport Association -- lobbying group for the nation's airlines -- was quick to make an arguably tenuous connection between lost baggage, and the nation's aging ATC system.

"'The primary reason behind mishandled bags is delayed and misconnected flights,' said ATA spokesman Dave Castelveter. 'And we're seeing record delays this summer... No airline tries to [lose bags]... The carriers are trying the best they can given the existing situation.'"

What will the airlines try next, blaming the peanuts for tasting funny on the airport's ground crew?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Great Article on AOPA's Website

AOPA posted this great article on its website - it's right on!!!

Here's the link and the aritcle is reproduced below.

Even the White House blames the airlines

The White House and the Department of Transportation announced Sept. 27 that they were taking "new steps" to tackle "aviation congestion and delays" in New York and across the nation. But there's less there than meets the eye, according to House transportation leaders.

"The administration's proposal contains a good deal of talking and planning, but little action to address the delay problem and help consumers in the short term," said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn).

"While the airlines have consistently tried to blame general aviation for their delay problems, the White House did finally acknowledge that airlines themselves were, in fact, a significant factor," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The administration's fact sheet said that the Department of Transportation has started a process to "help the busiest airports adopt new policies to efficiently address chronic airline over-scheduling, which leads to long lines and delays on the tarmac."

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the Transportation Committee, echoed that assessment by saying, "The administration needs to put the brakes on airline over-scheduling at our most congested airports. We must recognize the need for additional runways and new airports."

The administration also announced the formation of the New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee (NYARC) that will "explore market-based mechanisms and other options for addressing airspace congestion and flight delays in the New York area."

But the announcement wasn't even public before the airlines attacked it. The Air Transport Association sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, objecting to congestion pricing and other market-based mechanisms that would "artificially constrain" demand.

ATA called congestion pricing a tax, and said neither the DOT nor the FAA had the authority to impose a tax.

The administration also accused Congress of failing to act on its FAA funding proposal (which included user fees and huge tax increases for general aviation), suggesting lawmakers had to accept some blame for chronic airline delays.

The leaders of the Transportation Committee took umbrage with that.

"This administration put forward an extremely controversial financing proposal for which there was absolutely no consensus," Oberstar, aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), and aviation subcommittee senior member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a joint Sept. 27 statement.

"The administration's controversial funding proposal has directly contributed to the delay in passing legislation reauthorize the FAA.... [It] failed completely to hold the airlines responsible for what we are now told are 'scheduling practices that are at times out of line with reality.'

"It is the Bush administration that is once again out of line with reality." They said that "lack of oversight" and "failure to use statutory authority" by the administration has played a part in the suffering of airline passengers today.

During a press conference, the Transportation Committee leaders noted that their FAA funding bill (H.R.2881, which has passed the House) would provide $1 billion more for air traffic control modernization (NextGen) than the administration's proposal, and $4 billion more for airports.

Monday, October 1, 2007

High stakes for rural America

Niel Ritchie, executive director of the League of Rural Voters and an Alliance board member, says that small rural towns stand to lose out if new fees and taxes are enacted on general aviation. In a Minneapolis Star-Tribune opinion piece, Ritchie writes that many rural communities depend on general aviation for economic survival.

Read the full story here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Great Story on the NBC Nightly News!!!!

Airlines reject DOT report
Airlines reject DOT report

NBC gets it right about delays - the airlines aren't doing anything about delays because their own practices are causing the delays.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

USA Today editorial

In an editorial, USA Today asks the same question that's been on many people's minds: "It's 9 a.m. The weather's fine. So why's the runway clogged?"

The FAA has stayed on the sidelines for too long as airlines schedule far too many-rush hour flights. USA Today provides the example of a Wednesday morning in Newark, with 57 flights scheduled to depart in an hour. The problem? The airport's top capacity is 45 flights.

After the unprecedented delays of this summer, it's time for some answers from the commercial airlines.

Click here for the full story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Check Out This Great USA Today Story

Opposing view: 'A balanced approach'

Our bill protects fliers but doesn’t overregulate the airline industry.

By James Oberstar and Jerry Costello

Members of Congress are frequent fliers and experience the same aggravations as the rest of the flying public. Long lines, long delays, overbooking, crowded cabins, lost luggage. We've also experienced them many times over.

As we crafted the passenger-rights provisions of the new aviation bill moving through Congress, we had to restrain the impulse to take out our own frustrations with the airlines by piling on cumbersome, unworkable mandates. Our bill provides strong measures but stops short of re-regulating the industry. It honors the contract of carriage, the basic legal agreement between airlines and passengers, and places enforcement properly in the hands of the secretary of Transportation.

In drafting our legislation, we determined that one size could not fit all. Air traffic controllers, for example, told us that a firm deadline to force a plane's return to the terminal after a given number of hours could produce chaos on the ground at many airports.

Instead, we require airlines and airports to develop their own emergency plans and submit them to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The secretary would then have the power to accept, reject or require modification. The secretary would also have the power to enforce the plans, and levy fines for non-compliance.

The incidents at Detroit, Austin and New York's Kennedy airport that triggered calls for action were failures of planning as much as they were failures of operation. By requiring the airlines and, importantly, the airports to develop plans for such emergency situations — including a strategy for deplaning stranded passengers — we can avoid the indecision and poor decisions that led to these travel nightmares.

Our bill further requires public disclosure of these plans and a 24-hour complaint hotline. It also sets up a DOT advisory group on aviation consumer issues.

The bill, passed by the House last Thursday, takes a balanced approach. It was created in consultation with passenger-rights advocates, allowing the airlines and airports needed flexibility, holding them responsible for living up to their promises and hitting them with fines if they don't.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairs the House Subcommittee on Aviation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

GA Wins in Senate Finance Committee!

Thanks to the hard work of general aviation supporters across the country, the Senate Finance Committee voted on Friday to approve an FAA reauthorization bill that does NOT include any new user fees or taxes on GA. The bill includes an increase in jet fuel tax, similar to the version passed in the House of Representatives last week.

The bill will now be voted on by the full Senate, so we will soon be calling on you again to contact your Senators and express your views. As we saw last week, the GA community can make a difference!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Please call your Senator!

Simply use our toll-free legislative hotline, at 1-866-908-5898, to be automatically connected to your Senator.

Thursday, September 20th at 4:00 p.m., the Senate Finance Committee is voting on its own proposal for FAA reauthorization. IF your Senator is a key member of this committee, please take this opportunity to speak out NOW on behalf of small businesses and towns that rely on general aviation!

The members of the Finance Committee are:


When you speak with your Senator’s office, you may want to say:

* I support the proposal put forth by Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley, which equitably funds modernization and protects the small businesses and communities that rely on general aviation by retaining our easy-to-use and efficient fuel tax system.

* Please reject amendments that would award the commercial airlines a huge tax break.

Also, please visit our website and send your Senator a letter by clicking here.

On behalf of the Alliance and the general aviation community, thank you for your help and support!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alliance Supports House Ways & Means Bill

Today, September 18, the House Committee on Ways and Means passed its own version of FAA reauthorization by voice vote. The Alliance supports this proposal, as it preserves our current fuel tax system and does not impose any new taxes or fees on general aviation aircraft operators and owners. This is further proof that modernization of our air traffic control system can be achieved without a radical and unnecessary overhaul of the FAA's funding system.

Click here to read our press release: link.

Monday, September 17, 2007

We Need Your Help!

As you may know, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently introduced a version of the FAA reauthorization proposal which retains the simple and easy-to-use fuel tax system. Tomorrow, September 18th, the House Ways and Means Committee is voting on their own proposal for FAA reauthorization, and your Representative is a key member of this committee. You have a great opportunity to speak out NOW on behalf of small businesses and towns that rely on general aviation!

This is a critical time in our fight, so please take a few minutes to call your Representative now!

When you speak with your Representative’s office, you may want to say:

* As the House Ways and Means Committee works to craft their own proposal for FAA reauthorization, I urge you to follow the common-sense approach of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which protects small businesses and communities that rely on general aviation by retaining our simple, easy-to-use fuel tax system.

* I reject any radical and unnecessary new taxes or fees on general aviation that would harm small businesses and towns, while giving the commercial airlines a huge tax break.

Also, please visit our website and send your Representative a letter by clicking here.

On behalf of the Alliance and the general aviation community, thank you for your help and support!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Utahns speak out in support of general aviation

The Alliance held a conference call with a number of Utahns concerned about the potential impact of the proposed new tax scheme on general aviation. Among those taking part in the call were former Senator Jake Garn, Arthur Douglas, president of the Utah Farmers Union, St. George Mayor Daniel McArthur, Logan City Councilman Stephen Thompson, and Rob Kunz, CEO of KnowledgeBlue.

Sen. Garn said, "This is the only time since I left the Senate that I wished I was still there so I could talk some common sense into my former colleagues."

Click here or here to read more.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Airline schedules "aren't worth the electrons they're printed on"

It bears repeating: the airlines MUST address their habitual overscheduling, or passengers will continue to face delays, cancellations, and problems at the airport. For example, just ask anyone who flew - or tried to fly - on Delta Airlines #1667 (JFK - Orlando) during the month of July. How often was this flight delayed? 25% of the time? 50%? Even 75%?

No such luck. Delta #1667 was late 96.77% of the time. Seems to fit right in with Marion Blakey's statement that airline schedules "aren't worth the electrons they're printed on."

Read what blogger Av8rdan has to say on the topic of airline overscheduling here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Angel Flight

Angel Flight is an organization that provides free air transportation for patients in need of medical care, as well as their families. Angel Flight's volunteer pilots donate their time and the use of their aircraft and are not reimbursed.

Click here and here to read more about these "angels" and the service they provide.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Airline schedules: "Out of line with reality"

What caused the record air travel delays this summer?

Just ask Marion Blakey, FAA administrator, who says that airline schedules are sometimes "out of line with reality."

With regards to New York area airports, Blakey said, "You've got schedules that simply can't physically be operated accept under the most optimal of circumstances." She added, "We don't have optimal days all that often."

And we all know what happens on those less-than-optimal days: delays and more delays.

Click here for the full story.

Monday, September 10, 2007

1997 All Over Again

Déjà Vu: Whether It's 1997 or 2007, the Big Airlines’ Playbook of Blame and Deception Stays the Same
The Air Transport Association and the Airlines Are Sticking with the Same Losing Strategy from 1997: Blame Others to Try to Justify a Huge Handout from Congress

The big airline executives and their lobbying organization, the Air Transport Association, have spent the last several months engaging in a campaign of mistruths and deception to sell Congress on a risky new user fee scheme that would shift their tax burden onto small aircraft. However, it turns out the big airlines are using same tired tactics they used in 1997, when they tried to push their tax burden onto other aviation segments.

In 1997, the commercial airlines, and specifically the “big seven” airlines, tried to overhaul the ticket tax structure in favor of a user fee scheme that would shift their tax burden onto passengers that use low cost carriers. Their strategy: blame the low‐cost carriers for not paying their fair share. Now, ten years later, the airlines are regurgitating the same old, tired claims to try to justify shifting their tax burden onto their latest target, general aviation.

On Shifting Their Tax Burden Through User Fees

• 1997: “The upshot of the Group of Seven [user fees] proposal is to shift some $600 million in costs away from the big carriers to the smaller carriers.” Congressman James Oberstar (D‐MN).

• 2006: "The nation's airline industry is lobbying to cut as much as $2 billion in taxes from its annual tab, shifting those costs to smaller business aviation users and other aircraft." [ii] Playbook 1997 Playbook 2007

On Scapegoating Other Aviation User Groups

• 1997: “We've carried them [low‐cost carriers] for several decades now.” Tim Doke, spokesman for American Airlines.[iii]

• 2007: “Unfortunately, what we have today is a… lopsided funding system where one group of
users… subsidizes another user group – corporate jets.” James May, Air Transport Association.

Even Though They Continue to Admit that They Plan to Pass on No Savings to the Consumer

• On the tax cut they received in 1997: ""The fares that travelers pay won't change, but the
amount that normally goes to the excise tax will instead be captured by the airline.” David
Messing, spokesman for Continental Airlines. [v]

• One airline executive recently on pocketing their expected tax break: “At the very least,
[if a tax cut was awarded] we could keep fares the same and make more money.” Fort Worth Star‐Telegram. [vi]

The Truth

Airlines Continue to Spread Mistruths: The ATA is clearly spreading mistruths to try to justify their tax cut proposal. Even though they claim they pay for 94% of the taxes going into the air traffic control system, FAA’s own documents show that all U.S. passenger airlines combined only pay 77% of taxes.

Big Airlines Drive the Majority of the Costs of the Air Traffic Control System: The airlines would have you believe a small 4 seat plane landing at a rural airport in Kansas drives as much of thecost to the air traffic control system as a jumbo jet landing at a major metropolitan hub airport. This fallacy has been universally rejected by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the international aviation community, and many nations that have imposed user fees to finance their air traffic control system.

The Airlines’ Latest User Fee Scheme is Nothing More than an Attempt to Get Another Handout: The airlines latest “user fee” scheme is nothing more than another thinly veiled attempt at yet another government handout. The facts clearly show that this proposal would do nothing to help modernization, would result in a huge new bureaucracy, and shift control of the air traffic control system away from Congress and into the hands of the commercial airlines. On top of that, the airlines would net out with another billion dollar handout at the direct expense of small businesses and communities.

Another 11th Hour Scheme from the Big Airlines: Like they did when they introduced a brand new tax structure after aviation taxes had already expired in 1997, the airlines have now come out with yet another last minute tax cut scheme ‐ with less than 30 legislative days left before funding for FAA expires. This latest “proposal” would award the airlines a tax break on their most lucrative routes by exempting the first 250 miles of any flight from taxes. In fact, 25% of the top 12 busiest routes in the country would be tax exempt under the airlines’ proposal, creating a significant loss of revenue for air traffic modernization.