The Air Transport Association of America, the industry trade association for the leading U.S. airlines, called on the Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress and the industry to turn nearly 20 years of discussion into action and quickly enact a U.S. national airline policy in order to boost competitiveness and drive economic growth.
“We already have years of good work and a solid blueprint. We now need a focused and coordinated commitment from everyone involved to turn multiple commission recommendations into real policy with a measurable timeline of accomplishments. ATA is committed to help lead the development of this timeline, which will turn aspirations into reality, and to work cooperatively with any willing partner to make that happen,” said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio in a speech to the National Chamber Foundation Annual Aviation Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Calio outlined at least four separate federal commissions, beginning in 1993, which were formed and worked to develop policy recommendations to strengthen the U.S. airline industry. Most recently, the DOT Future of Aviation Advisory Committee produced a report that outlines many important components needed for a successful policy. “The issues examined over the years have remained largely the same and have been discussed in remarkably similar language,” Calio said.
Each commission reached similar conclusions, which are supported by ATA members:
•Address the rising tax burden
•Reduce the industry’s regulatory burden
•Expedite implementation of a satellite-based air traffic management system
•Expand access to global markets
•Enable the U.S. airline industry to attract investment
“While the work has been done on paper, we need to turn these aspirations into measurable actions. A policy, more accurately recommendations written on paper but not put into practice, is no policy at all. Talking about it is not going to make it happen. We need to prioritize funding currently available to the most critical elements, which will create the most benefits in the short term,” Calio said.
The urgency of implementation and action is due to the current inflection point of airlines and aviation in the United States. Calio described the conflicting conditions of neglect in the system and overbearing scrutiny, “We can continue the course we are on as an economy and accept the consequences. Or we can take practical, positive steps, based on the urgency and opportunity of this inflection point, and regain our country’s global competitive position.”