With FAA Reauthorization Looming, Industry Groups Speak Out
Two groups with a stake in travel and aviation called on Congress last week to consider several factors critical to their industries as legislators plan the groundwork for an FAA reauthorization bill.
As the October 1 expiration date on government funding for the Federal Aviation Administration draws closer, industry groups continue to lobby Congress on issues they believe are paramount to the FAA reauthorization bill.
A Revenue Shift
Last week, the U.S. Travel Association submitted a plan [PDF] to Congress that includes a set of proposals aimed at creating aviation policies that are “pro-competition, pro-growth, and pro-traveler,” according to the group.
Specifically, the plan suggests eliminating five passenger taxes in order to offset an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), or fees collected by airports run by public agencies to fund FAA-approved improvement projects.
The proposed changes would not only provide more resources for infrastructure improvements but would also reduce airlines’ incentives to charge ancillary fees, such as those for bag and ticket changes.
“The issue of infrastructure financing is particularly contentious” U.S. Travel’s President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “We continue to believe that the PFC, as a pure user fee, is the ideal means to address our severe infrastructure challenges. But finding the math to be able to include an airfare tax cut is a critical new piece, and has been expressly designed to address the concerns of some who have attacked the PFC approach.”
The Air Line Pilots Association, meanwhile, does not want new legislation to go lax on pilot training and qualification requirements.
“Any attempt to reduce oversight, relax safety standards for airline pilot licensing, training, and qualification, or to weaken the measures that prevent pilot fatigue reintroduce unacceptable risk to the traveling public and our flight crewmembers,” ALPA President Tim Canoll wrote last week in an op-ed.
The group is advocating that the reauthorization bill include science-based rules that ease pilot fatigue and a full implementation of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System program, or NextGen—the agency’s plan to overhaul the country’s air control system.
“The FAA reauthorization legislation is typically the vehicle by which the safety and regulatory standards for the industry are updated and improved,” Canoll wrote. “We cannot allow this bill to reverse that trend.”