Air travel is too important a driver to our economy and jobs to be treated like a political football, said Airlines for America (A4A) President and CEO Nicholas Calio, addressing the threat of sequestration, which could take today if no new deal is reached.
"We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to avert the sequester to ensure that the millions of businesses, passengers and shippers who rely on air travel are not negatively impacted, " Calio said in response to an article in the National Journal Transportation Blog, "The Airport Canary in the Sequestration Coal Mine."
"Our country’s air travel system is at the forefront of the potential budget sequester. Since Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that if the FAA has to implement $600 million in budget cuts, the cuts it chooses to make will impact air travel by 'lengthy delays and cancellations.' U.S. airlines safely and efficiently transport 2 million people and nearly 50,000 tons of cargo every day. It is these very passengers and shippers who provide a full two-thirds - more than $12 billion - of the FAA’s budget through the taxes and fees they pay."
"And yet, the FAA is proposing to bite - or more correctly, delay and inconvenience - the hand that feeds it. In fact, passengers and shippers have continued to pay more into government coffers, even as air travel has declined. From Fiscal Year 2001 to Fiscal Year 2012, commercial aviation operations fell 15 percent but FAA revenue from commercial aviation rose a whopping 37 percent."
"Every American, whether they travel regularly or not, is impacted by the level of efficiency in our national airspace system. Millions of tons of goods are moved by air every day and night, economic activity that supports millions of jobs across the country. The FAA warning of increased delays is particularly troubling considering that, by their own estimate, delays today cost our economy $31 billion annually in actual costs and lost productivity."
"In the event the sequester cannot be averted, we urge the FAA to choose non personnel cuts in its $9.6 billion operating budget to meet the requirements of the sequester, without furloughing federal air traffic controllers. It is important to note that the airlines are not taking sides in what has become a political battle. A4A is on the side of businesses, passengers and shippers—those who pay for the FAA’s budget—and we think Congress and the Administration should be as well," Calio said.
We'll be monitoring the situation throughout the day, so keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story.