In testimony before the House Small Business Committee, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association (TIA), said that deep frustration with the air travel process, including inefficient security screening and flight delays and cancellations, caused travelers to avoid 41 million trips over the past year.
"The problem America faces today is that our air travel system is in steep decline," stated Dow. "This is not a problem solely for the aviation community, but for business across America."
Dow pointed out that these economic losses are most harshly felt by small businesses. "Businesses within the travel sector are particularly dependent on reliable and efficient air travel. Over 95 percent of travel and tourism businesses are small businesses: 98 percent have 100 or fewer employees and 99.5 percent have 500 or fewer employees. Anything that affects air travel in the United States hits these small businesses harder," said Dow.
Dow noted that security and air traffic control, which is the source of many flight delays and cancellations, are both within the purview of the federal government. He said that travelers are voters too and they are looking for a champion to stand up for the traveling public.
"TIA estimates that represents a $26 billion loss in consumer spending to the U.S. economy, including $9.4 billion in lost airline revenues, $5.6 billion in lost hotel receipts, $3.1 billion in lost restaurant income and $4.21 billion in lost federal, state and local taxes," Dow said.
Dow also cited a report released recently by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) of the Joint Economic Committee, which estimated that the indirect costs of wasted time, wasted fuel and lost productivity caused by flight delays is more than $40 billion per year.
"Taken together, the direct and indirect costs of a broken air travel system approach $70 billion per year," stated Dow. "A U.S. economy that may be tipping into recession simply cannot afford this level of disruption."