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.

Friday, September 7, 2007

JetBlue Comes to Its Senses

Finally an airline sees the light!!!!

JetBlue Splits With ATA On Calculating User Fees

By Lori Ranson/Aviation Daily

JetBlue has declared its opposition to the Air Transport Association's FAA funding proposal and mounted its own campaign on Capitol Hill last week urging law makers to reject ATA's suggestions.

Carrier CEO Dave Barger sent letters to heads of pertinent committees in the House and Senate outlining JetBlue's arguments and declaring ATA's proposal "thinly veiled."

The airline takes exception to two aspects of ATA's proposal - the domestic distance tax and exemptions for the first 250 miles of a domestic flight.

JetBlue argues that ATA is opting to measure distance flown using a "great circle" calculation, rather than actual flight distances. To illustrate that point, Barger cited an example of a carrier flying direct from New York to Tucson. Yet another carrier technically flying between those two points could have a flightplan that included a flight from Islip to Baltimore, with the second leg including a flight between BWI and Los Angeles. The final portion of that itinerary includes a Los Angeles-Tucson flight.

Barger explained that the N.Y.-Tucson direct flight had a 2,136-mile distance, while the distance of the multi-stop flight was 26% longer at 2,689 miles, plus three more takeoffs and landings. In essence the multi-stop carrier is paying the same fee as JetBlue, but is placing more of a burden on the ATC system.

"The FAA and ATA both acknowledge that takeoffs and landings, along with time in the system are the most accurate drivers of ATC costs, yet the ATA's formula disregards these cost drivers and penalizes JetBlue's low-cost business model that efficiently avoids hub stops and relies primarily on nonstop, point-to-point service," Barger said.

A JetBlue spokeswoman noted that the rationale for using pure origin-and-destination mileage is for simplicity and ease of administration, but she noted that while, "it is 'easy,' it's also wrong. This provision does not produce revenues equal to the use of the system, one of the ATA's most fervently cited guiding principles."

JetBlue also takes issue with ATA characterizing the 250-mile exemption as a way to reduce the burden on smaller communities. The carrier argues ATA's plan exempts more than 25% of all domestic flights, including all the shuttle flights from New York City to Boston and Washington. Those flights alone, JetBlue said, produce more than 100 flights per day in each direction. Barger pointed to similar examples of Miami-Orlando, Dallas-Houston and Los Angeles-Las Vegas, which "despite the burden they place on the busiest air traffic control centers in the nation, would also be exempt from paying the distance-based fee under the ATA's proposal."

While JetBlue supports a genuine small-community ATC fee exemption, "this disingenuous plan mocks the importance of small community air service," Barger said. JetBlue did propose alternative solutions to its problems with ATA's proposal, but they weren't taken, the carrier's spokeswoman explained. She noted the carrier had done everything possible "not to take a singular stand."

ATA had no comment on the letters JetBlue sent to members of Congress. The current FAA reauthorization expires Sept. 30.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Check Out Our Ad

Check out our television ad!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Airline Exec Finally Gets The Picture

Finally, it looks like some airline executives are figuring out why their flights are constantly delayed: their own airline practices. According to a New York Times article, “W. Douglas Parker, US Airways’ chief executive, said many delays could be avoided if airlines did not crowd flight departures around peak hours.”

Now that they have admit it’s a problem, does anyone think they’ll actually do anything about it or just continue to try and pass the buck to GA?