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.