Inside the Fence

News, notes, and a little bit of nonsense from a season on the road ...

In Savannah, members of the Georgia Airports Association met for the 12th time. Among the speakers was Jim Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association, who says he is concerned about state and local government initiatives that are attempting to preempt TSA security rules (see www.aopa.org).

Among other Coyne concerns ...

John Infanger, Editorial Director

• "Fear mongering" is a growing business in Washington, D.C., particularly where aviation is concerned.

• The color alerts put out by the Homeland Security agency offer no point of reference. "They haven’t a clue" as to what the different codes mean in terms of how airports and operators need to react when an alert is issued.

• Security officials in D.C. remain convinced that Al Queda is determined to fly an aircraft into the U.S. Capitol building.

• There are many in the federal security community who want to do away with general aviation. (Coyne relates a story in which a Congressman told him that even though there are some 350,000 pilots in the U.S., it only represents some one-half of one percent of the total voter constituency. With those numbers, voting against that constituency’s livelihood or activity means little politically.)

Yet, says Coyne, he remains "cautiously optimistic" about the industry.

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Carter Morris of AAAE, also on tap at the Georgia meeting, has been elevated to the position of vice president of security policy for the association – a new position. Morris relates that Admiral Loy has brought back the trusted traveler program, supported by airport groups, for consideration.

Morris also says that, in the absence of definitive procedures, the general aviation industry should embrace TFRs as a tool they can use to work with TSA.

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A final note from the Georgia meeting comes from the airport group’s president Lee Remmel, manager of the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta. Remmel takes issue with AAAE’s GA taskforce recommendations to the TSA on security guidelines, concerned that smaller airports won’t be able to afford related cost increases.

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On page 8, we report on The Boyd Group airline forecasting conference held in Sarasota in October. A couple of outtakes ...

• "If we really want the airline industry to succeed, we have to allow airlines to fail." – Sam Buttrick, UBS Warburg analyst.

• "At many airlines, a call from an airport is much like a call from a copier salesman (re: air service)." – Mike Boyd, president, The Boyd Group.

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A thought on the upcoming aviation funding bill set for rewrite in 2003. There are two reasons that the highway transportation funding bill gets a higher priority in Congress: 1) highways are a more local issue that constituents relate to directly; and 2) the highway lobby gets way out in front of the legislative game. The highway bill is pretty much written; the aviation lobby is still formulating its strategy.

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Finally, it seems that TSA wants all associated costs built into its rent agreement with airports. Asks an airport rep, reviewing the ridiculous requirements in a TSA lease proposal: "How do I budget for all that extra toilet paper?"

Thanks for reading.

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