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February 27, 2015

Posts in "Aviation"

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

Week In Review: Derailment, Delay, And Delta’s CEO

Delta CEO Richard Anderson (Photo credit Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Delta CEO Richard Anderson (Photo credit Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

This week was dominated by the derailment of an oil train near Mount Carbon, W.V. The accident, which caused explosions and fires and destroyed one house, illustrated the risks that towns and cities face as Bakken crude from North Dakota makes the journey from the oil well to the tank of your car.

Full story

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

Boeing: Fuel Savings Not Sole Factor In Aircraft Buys

Crews work on the engine of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner last summer in Everett, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Crews work on the engine of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner last summer in Everett, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Lower oil prices have not changed airlines’ plans to buy fuel-efficient Boeing airplanes, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday.

“We see low fuel prices and positive traffic trends as beneficial to our industry and growth prospects,” McNerney said during a conference call with investment analysts and reporters.

He said fuel efficiency isn’t the sole factor in airlines’ decisions to buy new planes.

McNerney said last October, when oil prices were at about $85 a barrel, that they would need to fall “a long way from where we are now” before “you begin to see even [an] incremental impact” on airlines’ demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The Brent global benchmark is now under $50 a barrel.

Full story

January 27, 2015

Senators Urging Obama To Fill TSA Vacancy

A TSA agent checks a traveler's identification at a TSA Pre-check lane at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A TSA agent checks a traveler’s identification at a TSA Pre-check lane at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, are joining forces to urge President Barack Obama to nominate a head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The bipartisan letter to Obama says that given an “intensified terror threat and the vacancy set into motion when former Administrator [John] Pistole announced his plans to retire over three months ago, it is critical that TSA have strong leadership now to set priorities, make tough decisions, and manage its large workforce.”

Full story

White House Landing Highlights Calls For Drone Rule

A member of the Secret Service's Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The lobbying and advocacy effort to get the Federal Aviation Administration to issue its long-awaited proposed rule on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) got a bit of a dramatic fillip early Monday when a small quad copter landed on the White House grounds.

The Washington Post reported that the Secret Service said a person whom it didn’t identify, called at 9:30 a.m. Monday to “self-report that they had been in control of the quad copter device that crashed on the White House grounds early this morning. The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device.”

But Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D- N.Y., said, “With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington; there is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed.”

Full story

January 26, 2015

Bust The Aircraft Duopoly? Not Quite Yet

The new Bombardier C series aircraft is shown in Mirabel, Quebec as it is due to take off for the first time on Sept. 16, 2013. (Photo: Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)

The new Bombardier C series aircraft is shown in Mirabel, Quebec as it is due to take off for the first time on Sept. 16, 2013. (Photo: Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images)

Two competitors are aiming to break the hold that the Boeing-Airbus duopoly has on the market for long-haul jets, but one, China, is still years away from entering the global market, while the other, the Canadian company Bombardier, has been facing delays with its new midsized passenger jet.

The Financial Times asks Monday whether the difficulties Bombardier has had with its new C series passenger jet “are merely the kind of short-term blip that other aircraft manufacturers have experienced – and overcome – on big new projects, or a long-term risk to the company’s viability.”

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 1:45 p.m.
Airports, Aviation, Travel

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