ATA Urges Immediate Action on National Airline Policy

Quick enactment of a U.S. national airline policy in order to boost competitiveness and drive economic growth was urged by the Air Transport Association (ATA), who said the Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress and the airline industry should turn nearly 20 years of discussion into action. The U.S. must regain its global competitive position, it argued.

“We already have years of good work and a solid blueprint,” said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio in a speech to the National Chamber Foundation Annual Aviation Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We now need a focused and coordinated commitment from everyone involved to turn multiple commission recommendations into real policy with a measurable timeline of accomplishments. ATA is committed to help lead the development of this timeline, which will turn aspirations into reality, and to work cooperatively with any willing partner to make that happen.”

Calio outlined at least four separate federal commissions, beginning in 1993, which were formed and worked to develop policy recommendations to strengthen the U.S. airline industry. Most recently, the DOT Future of Aviation Advisory Committee produced a report that outlines many important components needed for a successful policy.

“The issues examined over the years have remained largely the same and have been discussed in remarkably similar language,” Calio said.

Each commission reached similar conclusions, which are supported by ATA members. This includes: addressing the rising tax burden; reducing the industry’s regulatory burden; expediting implementation of a satellite-based air traffic management system; expanding access to global markets; and enabling the U.S. airline industry to attract investment.

“While the work has been done on paper, we need to turn these aspirations into measurable actions. A policy, more accurately recommendations written on paper but not put into practice, is no policy at all. Talking about it is not going to make it happen. We need to prioritize funding currently available to the most critical elements, which will create the most benefits in the short term,” Calio said.

The urgency of implementation and action is due to the current inflection point of airlines and aviation in the U.S.

Calio described the conflicting conditions of neglect in the system and overbearing scrutiny, saying, “We can continue the course we are on as an economy and accept the consequences. Or we can take practical, positive steps, based on the urgency and opportunity of this inflection point, and regain our country’s global competitive position.”