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April 18, 2015

Posts in "Airports"

March 23, 2015

Vote-A-Rama And Aviation Hearings On Week’s Agenda

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will testify at a House hearing Tuesday on air traffic control reform (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker will testify at a House hearing Tuesday on air traffic control reform (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This week’s Senate action will feature the vote-a-rama, a series of dozens of votes on various policy proposals offered as amendments to the fiscal year 2016 budget resolution.

At least one transportation infrastructure amendment will be offered by Senate Democrats. But other transportation-related amendments may pop up as well, since the vote-a-rama is a kind of long-form improvised political theater.

Meanwhile on Tuesday the House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine options reforming the FAA’s air traffic control system, including possible creation of a private entity to run the system.

Witnesses include American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and Reason Foundation transportation policy director Robert Poole.

Also on Tuesday the Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will have a hearing on unmanned aerial vehicles featuring Amazon’s vice president for global public policy Paul Misener and Michigan farmer Jeff VanderWerff who will be representing the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Last week the FAA gave an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. drone design that the company will use for research and development and crew training as it works its way toward drone delivery of packages.

On Wednesday the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security will look at how the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA PreCheck system is working.

Witnesses include the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, John Roth. The subcommittee chairman is first-term Rep. John Katko, a Republican holding what had been a Democratic seat in upstate New York and one of the Democrats’ top targets for 2016.

March 17, 2015

U.S. Airlines’ Foreign Rivals Playing A Long Game

An Emirates Airline flight from Dubai lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. (Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

An Emirates Airline flight from Dubai lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. (Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

The Financial Times and other news organizations are reporting that low-cost European airline Ryanair will enter the transatlantic business. The Ryanair board has approved plans to start a transatlantic airline “with some one-way tickets expected to cost as little as £10,” or about $14.75 at current exchange rates.

But it will take up to five years for Ryanair to buy the aircraft and launch the new service.

Meanwhile U.S. carriers continue their efforts to get the Obama administration to put some limits on competitors such as Emirates Airline from the Persian Gulf.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the heads of Emirates and of Etihad Airlines are expected to address their battle with the U.S. carriers in speeches in Washington Tuesday.

“If Qatar and the United Arab Emirates continue giving their carriers billions of dollars in unfair subsidies, they will cannibalize American pilots’ jobs and undermine our nation’s aviation system,” said Tim Canoll, the president of the Air Lines Pilots Association (ALPA).

Three U.S. carriers, American, Delta, and United, and four unions including ALPA, have joined forces to launch the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies to carry on the propaganda battle against the Persian Gulf carriers.

The coalition announced that Jill Zuckman, who served as director of public affairs for the Department of Transportation under former Secretary Ray LaHood, will be its chief spokesman.

“As the CEOs of Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline arrive in Washington this week, they have a lot of explaining to do,” Zuckman said in her opening volley. “They need to explain how it is they have received more than $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits from their governments over the past 10 years.”

March 16, 2015

Here’s The Need, Where’s The Money?

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., will chair a hearing on the TSA budget for FY 2016 Tuesday. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., will chair a hearing on the TSA budget for FY 2016 Tuesday. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is another week closer to the May deadline for re-authorizing highway and mass transit spending.

What that means: if lawmakers don’t pass an authorization bill before May ends, then the Highway Trust Fund would be paying out money to the states at a much slower pace than normal, which would hinder or halt projects during the spring and summer construction season.

This week most of the Obama administration’s transportation officials will be testifying on Capitol Hill at appropriations hearings.

Tuesday the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security hears from Melvin Carraway, acting administrator of the Transportation Security Administration about the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 TSA budget request and issues such as the effectiveness of the TSA’s Pre-Check program for trusted travelers.

The chairwoman of the panel is Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R- N.H., who is up for re-election in 2016.

Meanwhile the Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta will testify to the House appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

Also Tuesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee gets the state and local perspective from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, and  Wyoming Department of Transportation director John Cox.

On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx testifies before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

Finally on Thursday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation hears from Gregory Nadeau, acting head of the Federal Highway Administration, Therese McMillan, acting head of the Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind, and Maritime Administration chief Paul Jaenichen.

The administration witnesses are sure to make the case for budget certainty and for a long-term infrastructure funding solution. The latter is looking less and less likely in 2015.

March 11, 2015

Korean Air ‘Nut Rage’ Will Get Re-Airing In Civil Suit

Former Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-Ah, center, is surrounded by reporters in Seoul on Dec. 30, 2014 after a hearing to review an arrest warrant application on charges of violating aviation safety laws. (Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-Ah, center, is surrounded by reporters in Seoul on Dec. 30, 2014 after a hearing to review an arrest warrant application on charges of violating aviation safety laws. (Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

“Nut rage” is an evocative phrase, a gift to headline writers – but the phrase also denotes a serious incident at Kennedy Airport in New York last December when Korean Air executive vice president Cho Hyun-ah delayed the departure of a flight after ordering the plane back to the gate and telling a senior crew member to get off.

Cho, the eldest daughter of company chairman Cho Yang-ho is serving a prison sentence in South Korea for her actions in the incident.

She was angered that flight attendant Kim Do-hee and a senior crew member did not know the correct procedure for serving macadamia nuts.

Nut rage will live on in a civil suit filed by Kim in Queens County, New York, where Kennedy Airport is located. The suit alleges that Cho screamed at, shoved, and threatened Kim, and has damaged her career, reputation, and emotional well-being.

March 6, 2015

Subsidies At Issue As U.S. Carriers Face Gulf Rivals

Rep. Peter DeFazio (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new report from a coalition of three major U.S. airlines, Delta, United and American, fuels a continued political struggle between those carriers and Persian Gulf carriers that are competing with them on routes from the Gulf through Europe to the United States.

The coalition says, “Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates collectively have received more than $42 billion in subsidies and other unfair benefits from the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.” It also says “every lost international roundtrip route by U.S. carriers because of this subsidized competition equals a net loss of more than 800 U.S. jobs.”

The U.S. airlines have asked the Obama administration to consider renegotiating the terms of the Open Skies accords with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

One congressional ally of the coalition, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D- Ore,. said the report “highlighted outrageous and clearly anti-competitive practices” by the three largest Persian Gulf airlines.

He is sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Secretary of State John Kerry, urging to “restore a fair, competitive balance between U.S. air carriers and Gulf state subsidized airlines.”

But Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association said the big three U.S. airlines “have been helped out often enough by the U.S. government over the years that playing the subsidy card strains credulity in the extreme. The bar should be extremely high to roll back these trade agreements that have unquestionably benefited travelers and the U.S. economy.”

 

February 23, 2015

Congress Faces Decision On Export-Import Bank

A Boeing 787-9 at the Farnborough Airshow in England, last July. (Photo: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

A Boeing 787-9 at the Farnborough Airshow in England, last July. (Photo: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

A day before more than 600 supporters of the Export-Import Bank arrive in Washington to make the case for the bank, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) urged Congress in a letter to change Ex-Im Bank rules so that it doesn’t aid “state-owned, state-supported, and credit-worthy foreign airlines.”

ALPA called for “targeted and meaningful reforms to the Export-Import Bank’s widebody aircraft lending practices.”

The Export-Import bank provides loans and loan guarantees to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods. In fiscal year 2014, the bank arranged $20.5 billion in financing which it said supported more than 164,000 American jobs.

Congress last year extended the bank’s charter until June, instead of giving it the five-year reauthorization it sought.

Full story

Week Ahead: Tolling, Flight Tracking, Energy Shipping

Sen. James Inhofe, R- Okla., and Rep. Bill Shuster, R- Pa., will both address the AASHTO conference this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James Inhofe, R- Okla., and Rep. Bill Shuster, R- Pa., will both address the AASHTO conference this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It will be a busy week in Washington for transportation policy, with hearings, speeches, and panel discussions on everything from better tracking of airline flights to tolling on interstates.

Tuesday

The Mileage Based User Fee Alliance holds its second annual conference in Washington.

The Alliance includes state departments of transportation and contractors in the tolling business. Panelists will discuss such topics as California’s Road Usage Charge Pilot Program.

Full story

February 20, 2015

Unions, Governors Make A Transportation Weekend Of It

Rep. Peter King, R- N.Y. will be conferring with transportation union leaders this weekend (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Peter King, R- N.Y. will be conferring with transportation union leaders this weekend (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trains and buses may be on a reduced weekend schedule but transportation events run at a brisk pace Saturday and Sunday.

In Atlanta, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO holds its annual executive committee meeting with 32 member unions in Atlanta. The unions represent workers from airline pilots to light rail operators.

Labor leaders will confer with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Saturday, and on Sunday Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y. and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. will meet with the union leaders.

Full story

February 18, 2015

Sparring With Gulf Rivals, Delta CEO Cites 9/11 Attacks

Richard Anderson, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Anderson, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

If you missed Delta CEO Richard Anderson on CNN Monday night, he touched on a provocative topic, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in his rhetorical struggle with Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airlines.

First Anderson told CNN’s Richard Quest that he had “documented evidence that can’t be refuted of tens of billions of dollars in direct government subsidies” that Emirates and the other Persian Gulf airlines had received from their governments.

Then he responded to a question about the Gulf carriers’ argument that U.S. carriers in their own way get government help in the form of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that allows them to periodically shed debt and other obligations.

“That is categorically false,” Anderson said. “And it’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that, given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula that caused us to go through a massive restructuring.”

Full story

February 11, 2015

Airports Group Defends Open Skies Trade Deals

An Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft on a visit to Tehran last year  (Photo: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

An Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft on a visit to Tehran last year (Photo: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

The trade association representing U.S. airports is coming to the defense of Open Skies agreements with foreign countries that are under attack from major U.S. airlines.

Last week three American airlines, Delta, United, and American, asked the Obama administration to modify or perhaps even scrap the Open Skies accords with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates that allow airlines from those countries to compete with the U.S. carriers.

The U.S. carriers argue that airlines such as Emirates are subsidized by their home governments to the tune of $42 billion since 2004.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Kevin Burke, the president of the Airports Council International – North America, said, “Criticisms are being levelled against U.S. Open Skies policy by a few U.S. interests”

But these agreements have been good for U.S. airports and for travelers, Burke argued. Full story

February 6, 2015

Week In Review: Struggling With Rivals and ‘Trolls’

Copies of President Obama's Fiscal Year 2016 budget await distribution in the Senate Budget Committee room Monday (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Copies of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget await distribution in the Senate Budget Committee room Monday (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Running through our stories this week was the theme of struggle, the competitive fray, the battle between contending forces.

Since we’re in Washington, D.C., of course there’s the inevitable struggle between the executive and legislative branches over political power and the interpretation of law.

Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., told us that in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), enacted just last year, “We laid out a very reasonable, common-sense goal of increasing what we’re spending every year” on harbor dredging and port maintenance.

But Hahn said President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget “decreases what we’re spending every year and in fact in 2025 is only proposing that 30 percent of all the money we collect would be returned to the ports.”

And we described another legislative vs. executive struggle over a new tank car standard which the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has yet to deliver, creating regulatory uncertainty among railroads, shippers, and car manufacturers.

A sardonic Rep. Peter DeFazio, D- Ore., said at a House hearing Tuesday the rule is “lost somewhere in the bowels of the administration between the agency and the trolls over at the Office of Management and Budget who will further delay the ruling.”

Then there’s the struggle between major U.S. airlines and Persian Gulf competitors such as Emirates over the terms of Open Skies agreements were intended to allow fairly free and open competition.

The U.S. air carriers are asking the Obama administration to consider re-negotiating those deals, alleging that Gulf air carriers are government subsidized.

Another form of struggle is the eternal one of labor versus management. We saw it this week in the West Coast port managers’ standoff with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union over a new contract.

Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna as he warned that ports from Los Angeles to Seattle were at “the brink of collapse” due to union work slowdowns.

February 5, 2015

Airlines Challenge Open Skies Deals With Gulf Nations

A flight attendant poses beside an Emirates Airbus A380. (Photo: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

A flight attendant poses beside an Emirates Airbus A380. (Photo: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

Major American airlines have asked the Obama administration to consider renegotiating the terms of the Open Skies accords with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates that allow airlines from those countries to compete with the U.S. carriers.

American Airlines said Thursday that it, along with United and Delta, is talking to “U.S. policymakers to reevaluate existing Open Skies agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates” and to assess the effect of government subsidies provided to the Gulf airlines “in violation of those agreements. We welcome robust competition provided the playing field is level.”

“A reopening of those Open Skies agreements is the first step and the right step to ensure competition is preserved and enhanced and U.S. airline careers continue to prosper.” the American Airlines statement said. Full story

February 3, 2015

Corporate Jets In Obama’s Sights As Revenue Source

Rep. Bobby Scott, D- Va., took a swipe at CEOs who use corporate jets Monday  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Bobby Scott, D- Va., took a swipe at CEOs who use corporate jets Monday (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The people who buy and fly in corporate jets are a durable political target.

Even as recently as Monday evening as the House Rules Committee considered the rule to govern the floor debate on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Bobby Scott, D- Va., told the committee that one of the benefits of the ACA is that people know that “the dollars they spend on insurance are going to health coverage. The 80 percent rule provides that 80 percent has to be spent on health care, not corporate jets and CEO bonuses.”

For four years in a row, starting in 2011, President Obama’s budget requests have proposed to raise taxes on companies that buy corporate aircraft.

He’s back with that same revenue raiser (which the administration estimates is worth $3.5 billion over ten years) in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget request.

Full story

January 30, 2015

Obama Transportation Proposals: Deja Vu All Over?

President Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tour the Metro Transit Light Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility in St Paul, Minn. last February. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tour the Metro Transit Light Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility in St Paul, Minn. last February. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama presents his Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal on Monday.

You’d probably not be off course if you were to read his transportation proposals from last year, almost none of which has yet been enacted, to get an inkling of what initiatives he’s going to offer.

The FY16 blueprint seems likely to be a revival of much of last year’s agenda.

The inescapable topic, of course, is a new source of revenue to pay for highways, bridges, and mass transit systems.

There’s momentum building for some method of taxing U.S. corporations’ overseas profits to pay for infrastructure.

Full story

January 28, 2015

Blizzard Economics Creates Winners And Losers

Snow covers a car in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Snow covers a car in Cambridge, Mass. on Tuesday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The blizzard that hit parts of the Northeast Tuesday may have been a bit of bust for New York City (9.8 inches in Central Park) and led to charges that Gov. Andrew Cuomo over-reached by ordering roads and mass transit to be shut down at 11pm Monday.

But the nor’easter dumped a lot of snow on places such as Southampton, N.Y. (29 inches) and Groton, Conn. (24 inches).

And according to the U.S. Travel Association, the cancelled flights cost the economy $230 million in passengers’ lost activity.

Each cancelled domestic flight costs the economy $31,600, according to a formula U.S. Travel researchers developed. The estimate is based on airline traffic and on-time data, air traveler behavior and other data collected through surveys, and U.S. Travel proprietary economic models.

The figure accounts for the passengers on more than 7,000 cancelled flights and the spending they would otherwise inject into the economy, but it does not calculate the impact on the airline industry.

Then again, storms such as Tuesday’s do create value for some people and some sectors of the economy.

In cities and towns from New Jersey to Maine there are tens of thousands of dollars spent on plowing and salting the roads. In one part of Massachusetts, hired contract plowers are paid $75 to $140 an hour. Full story

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