One on One: Mike Boyd

Aviation analyst on the stimulus bill, slot auctions, privatization, and more

Boyd: I think we have to take a whole new approach. We’ve just started revising our 1994 study on free flight — real free flight, which is a whole new technology. You can use all the sky, instead of the 4 or 5 percent we use today.

The problem I have with Nextgen is it’s a fraud … it is not on time or on budget. It’s a lie. All they’ve done is reschedule it.

What we need is a complete free flight system where every airplane takes a trajectory that it needs to take based upon winds, the strategy of the airline, load, and all the rest of those things. Use all the sky; it can be done with the same controllers we have now. It’s a system we have to pursue. What we’re pursuing now isn’t going to work; unfortunately,
we have Congress and consumer gadflies all talking about how we must fund NextGen. They wouldn’t know NextGen from the new menu at Taco Bell.

AB: Then there’s the topic of slot auctions at New York’s airports, which just about everybody in the industry seems to oppose. Bad idea?

Boyd: It’s truly showing once again how inept the DOT was under George Bush. How do you do slot auctions, and that’s going to increase competition? How do you do slot auctions at Newark and say it’s going to help the consumer, when it takes the one hub you have there and makes it weaker? How are you going to sell slots to people and say that’s going to reduce delays, when the real delays have nothing to do with the airlines themselves?

Mary Peters was a very nice person; she rides motorcycles; she’s a cool lady and all that. But she shouldn’t have been in that job.

The slot auctions were something somebody dreamed up and the airlines are right — it wouldn’t have done anything except mess things up.

It’s my hope Secretary [Ray] LaHood has a more enlightened approach to it. The problem is LaHood doesn’t have a lot of aviation background. He’ll take his cues from the people at the top in the DOT. He has to, and that’s not good.

AB: The Chicago press has suggested that Mayor Daley may be the beneficiary of stimulus package dollars because of President Obama’s ties to the city; in particular, for the O’Hare Modernization Program. Do you think that’s valid?

Boyd: I think that would absolutely be the case. How he pumps it — there’s back door, side doors, and the front door — he’ll use all of them. But that’s his political base; I’m not necessarily saying it’s wrong. O’Hare is an important entity for not only Chicago but for American and United.

He could also pump some money into that wasted concept of Peotone, which is a giant jobs project; you’ve got [Rep.] Jesse Jackson, Jr. behind it, and Obama is in the White House. We may see money wanted thrown in that direction over the next couple of years.

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