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OVER INDUSTRY OBJECTIONS, DOT PUSHES AHEAD WITH NEW YORK SLOT AUCTIONS Despite objections by the airlines and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, federal officials will be auctioning airport takeoff and landing slots at New York’s three...


OVER INDUSTRY OBJECTIONS, DOT PUSHES AHEAD WITH NEW YORK SLOT AUCTIONS
Despite objections by the airlines and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, federal officials will be auctioning airport takeoff and landing slots at New York’s three major airports — JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark-Liberty — in an effort to reduce nationwide flight delays caused by airport congestion, beginning in January.

According to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, the government will gradually auction up to 10 percent of the landing and takeoff slots the airlines currently operate at the airports. Peters also announces plans to spend $89 million on taxiway improvements at Kennedy Airport, and to reduce the number of hourly takeoffs and landings at LaGuardia from 75 to 71. The change at LaGuardia should cut flight delays there by 40 percent, Peters says.

The Air Transport Assn., which represents major U.S. carriers, reports it plans to file suit to stop the move, which comes despite findings by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that DOT/FAA does not have the legal authority to auction slots.

FUNDING — YET ANOTHER CONTINUING RESOLUTION
Congress recently approved the extension legislation, H.R. 6984, that will continue to fund the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. aviation system through March 31, 2009. An FAA reauthorization bill passed last year by the House, and under consideration by the Senate, includes an adjustment to the general aviation fuel tax to provide additional funding each year for continued transformation toward a satellite-based aviation system, also known as NextGen.

While general aviation groups remain pleased that new user fees have not been implemented by Congress via long-term FAA reauthorization, airport groups remain frustrated by the series of continuing resolutions coming out of Congress. Airports continue to call for raising the cap on Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to $7 from the current $4.50, and call for increases to Airport Improvement Program funding by $100 million per year.

Briefings ...

11th circuit court of appeals – rules that aviation services provider Business Representation International, Inc., in a high-profile wage-and-hour class action brought by 53 skycaps, was not liable for back wages. In Pellon v. BRI, the skycaps unsuccessfully argued that BRI violated minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and sought back wages as compensation, claiming that BRI failed to apportion the skycaps’ job duties between tipped and non-tipped tasks. The appellate court determined that there was no evidence that BRI had violated the FLSA.

abia — Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport announces that ultra low-cost carrier vivaAerobus will begin service to Puerto Villarta, initially with two flights per week beginning on January 15.

aircraft technical publishers — of Brisbane, CA announces an expanded agreement with Honeywell to republish and distribute technical publications for Honeywell engine APUs, landing gear, avionics, and additional aviation components. The technical publications will be distributed and accessed through ATP NavigatorV®, an independent industry standard platform for aviation compliance and safety information management; www.atp.com.

arinc direct — expands its portfolio of flight services for business aviation with a new, fully-integrated Weight & Balance and Performance (runway analysis) application. Developed in cooperation with the Aircraft Performance Group, the program enables ARINC Direct customers to perform calculations online from any standard Internet computer connection; www.arinc.com.

Baa boston — developer of the AIRMALL® at Boston Logan Int’l Airport, unveils new concessions in Terminal B/American Airlines, the culmination of a two-year, $33 million airport development project. Renovations add some 20 new units to the AIRMALL®, incorporating a mix of international, national, and local brands.

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