Congress has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 after four years and 23 delays. The comprehensive bill will help make air travel safer and efficient for passengers and shippers while avoiding further tax increases for customers and airlines.
“We commend Congress for passing a responsible bill that recognizes that commercial aviation is central to America’s global competitiveness and a key enabler of job growth and U.S. productivity,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio, representing the airlines.
“Holding the line on federal aviation taxes and fees paid by airlines and their customers enables carriers to work toward being sustainably profitable, so they can maintain jobs and service to communities and invest in their product. This bill also recognizes that safety is our highest priority and includes several provisions that help us build on our strong safety record," Calio said.
Key provisions of the legislation include:
Safety: The bill will further enhance aviation safety by promoting the sharing of safety data by airlines and airline employees with the FAA and establish a risk-based inspection system for aircraft repair stations located overseas.
NextGen: The bill will accelerate deployment of the cost-beneficial NextGen air traffic management system technologies. Specifically, the bill will require FAA to expedite implementation of performance-based navigation procedures at major airports, which will help airlines to further improve on-time performance, reduce fuel burn and aircraft emissions and mitigate noise. Importantly, the bill also includes performance metrics and deadlines to ensure that air travelers, shippers and airlines realize the benefits of NextGen in an expedited, cost-effective manner, A4A said.
Taxes and Regulations: The bill holds the line on aviation taxes paid by passengers, shippers and airlines, which have doubled over the last 20 years and now constitute $61 of a typical $300 round-trip domestic ticket. A4A said this is critically important to the economic viability of the airline industry, which has lost more than $50 billion since 2001 and is now facing record-high jet-fuel prices. The bill also ensures that any future regulations governing the air transportation of lithium batteries are consistent with international standards.
EU Emissions Trading Scheme: The bill reaffirms the U.S. position that the European Union (EU) should not extend its emission trading scheme (ETS) to non-EU airlines, and calls for the U.S. government to use all “political, diplomatic and legal tools” to ensure the scheme is not applied to U.S. carriers. In lieu of the ETS, Congress urges the EU to work with ICAO to develop a global, consensual approach to greenhouse gas emissions.
Environment: In addition to accelerating the deployment of performance-based navigation procedures, which will help reduce emissions and aircraft fuel burn, the bill strengthens FAA research and development programs in the areas of alternative jet fuel and the use of advanced materials in aircraft.
A4A thanked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), for removing the roadblocks to getting the bill approved and bringing bipartisan resolution to the much-needed and overdue bill.
“This bill saw many extensions, yet thanks to the leaders in both the House and the Senate, today we have a strong, multiyear bill," A4A said.