ATA: U.S. traffic levels demand change

The Air Transport Association (ATA) has said that the
record industry-wide passenger and cargo volumes reported by U.S.
carriers in 2005 drive home more than ever the imperative for a complete
overhaul of the nation’s outdated air traffic control system.Data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics
shows that scheduled aircraft departures, passenger enplanements,
revenue passenger miles (RPMs), available seat miles (ASMs) and cargo
revenue ton miles (RTMs) for U.S. carriers reached new highs in 2005.
Last year, U.S. airline operations grew to a record 11.5 million
departures, with carriers transporting 738.6 million passengers and 28.0
billion RTMs system-wide. This resulted in a 77.6 percent load factor.

“Higher volumes of traffic, which are expected to continue to grow,
strongly reinforce the need to modernize our antiquated air traffic
control system,” said ATA Vice President and Chief Economist John
Heimlich. “It is imperative that we implement technology upgrades and
adopt procedures that will accommodate the growing demand being placed
on the system by all users of ATC services and infrastructure. Without
an effective transformation of the ATC system, the negative impact on
our nation’s economy will be severe.”

“High traffic volumes should not be confused with profitability,
especially against a backdrop of surging fuel prices,” said Heimlich.
“While carriers are leaving no stone unturned with respect to cost
cutting, Congress and the FAA must address the cost inefficiencies of
our air traffic management system.” Heimlich added that passengers and
shippers alike would benefit greatly from a streamlined system,
especially one that allows airlines to fly the most efficient path
between two points.

        This recent industry data is just one component of the ATA
Economic Report (formerly ATA Annual Report), which highlights
significant facts and figures drawn from all areas of the U.S. airline
industry. The full report is scheduled for release in the summer of