On Funding, ATC, Ground Services

The aviation services sector will meet in Orlando in March at the annual NATA convention and Aviation Industry Expo. Here's a look at the key issues on the docket via an interview with NATA president Jim Coyne.

ATC - A Multi-Tier Approach?
A goal of all the interested parties remains modernization of the U.S. air traffic control system, and Coyne relates that the Administration is seeking to get the ‘next generation' ATC system out of the FAA bureaucracy."Congress doesn't have much confidence that they know what they're doing in terms of spending money on these big projects. The White House doesn't have much confidence, either."

Coyne suggests that the industry needs to take an entirely new approach, one that is multi-tiered and open to private sector competition."I don't think we should have a monopoly provider for air traffic control," he says."The government ought to be able to provide different contractor segments for different classes of users. Maybe the government should provide a way for the airlines to contract with FAA or ARINC or somebody else. Business users might have a different contractor," as would piston aircraft users.

Airports and Ground Services
Also on NATA's agenda is to heighten the discussion of airports getting into the ground services business as a way to help reduce costs to airlines, as they try to attract air service. It has become a growing issue, and Coyne thinks education of airports is a first step after attending AAAE's January issues conference.

"It was clear that some of the airports out there did not understand the specialization that's occurring in our industry around airline service companies," says Coyne."Rather than trying to figure out how to do this by themselves from scratch, why not hire someone who is experienced at it."

Coyne says that if the FBOs at an airport aren't interested in providing airline services, there are other options."There are airline service companies nationally that would be willing to come in and support the airline needs of that airport as a contractor," he explains. At the same time, he points out that airports then will avoid the increased liability exposure and hiring/firing of employees that go with airline services.


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