At the Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 13th Annual Aviation Summit, entitled, “Navigating the True Costs of Flying,” Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for U.S. airlines, joined member executives from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines, Federal Express Corporation, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines to identify the major challenges facing the industry. The summit was held in Washington, D.C.
In his keynote address, Nicholas Calio, A4A's president and CEO, examined the costs and benefits of commercial aviation. He called for transformational change and leadership within government and the airline industry. He advocated a holistic National Airline Policy that expedites implementation of NextGen, reforms an outdated air traffic control system and rationalizes the rising federal tax and regulatory burdens.
“Given the way Congress has moved from crisis to crisis on must-do financial legislation, a comprehensive policy push like the establishment of a holistic National Airline Policy needs an action-forcing event,” said Calio. “We believe the next FAA Reauthorization bill can be such an event."
A4A said that Bill Shuster (R-PA), the U.S. House of Representatives' transportation and infrastructure committee chairman, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and their counterparts Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) have banded together and are working toward an FAA Reauthorization bill that is, in their words, transformational. "That's just the kind of leadership, aspiration and vision we need to be the world leader within our industry once again," said Calio.
Calio highlighted the need to reform the air traffic control system and lack of progress in implementing NextGen, a 21st century, satellite-based system, which airlines have already invested hundreds of millions in yet are still waiting to see put to use for airline customers.
“Air traffic control reform can provide a broad-based approach to changing the governance, financing and delivery of service to travelers and suppliers,” said Calio. “Putting a new framework in place would be a long-overdue first step toward creating a system that is not dependent on an annual funding cycle that furloughs our air traffic controllers and leads to consistent delays.”
Calio noted this would be a critical step in correcting the program management and execution issues which have impeded progress to date, crippling the U.S. airline industry’s global competitiveness and progress.
“So, with great hope, [we move] onward toward transformational change in our industry,” said Calio.
Annually, commercial aviation helps drive more than $1 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. A4A airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic.
For more information about the airline industry, visit www.airlines.org.