Inside The Fence
By John Infanger
to aviation. Our server is down. We will be up and running as soon as
we can find the money to cover the installation fee for the new one ...
I've got 25 minutes to make the connection - about a mile walk and then through U.S. Customs. The fear of long lines is the only thought.
The line is not only long, it's stuffed. Fortunately, on approach, an agent calls out for MKE passengers to come up front. I'm directed to the next available U.S. agent.
"Here on business?"
"Yeah. I write about airports. I was in Calgary checking out their airport."
"Want something to write about?"
He points to the crowd of people lined like cattle.
"Write about that."
* * *
A visit to the TSA media offices in Washington, D.C., confirmed there really are TSA employees - some 3,700 of them as of mid-July. They expect to have 55,000 by Christmas. Buy your presents early and often.
An unofficial discussion led to one revelation: for GA airports, they do plan on bringing on more security, and foresee categorizing them based on aircraft weight.
They did not reveal that the next morning their boss, Mr. Magaw, would call it quits. Perhaps they didn't know, it being the TSA and all. (Subsequent reports say Magaw was fired.)
One gets the sense they are putting together a dedicated bureaucracy, er, organization. One also senses that Congress needs to resolve the Department of Homeland Security issue soon or all of TSA's hard work could unravel. Maybe Magaw just didn't like the idea of having to look over both his shoulders.
* * *
In recent issues we've written about EPA and secondary containment for refuelers. On July 18, four associations - AAAE, ACINA, ATA, and NATA - finally met with the national EPA for relief, or clearer definition. They got neither, but did get a commitment to discuss the issue with its regional offices, from where the directives have originated.
Says David Kennedy, NATA's rep at the powwow, "We didn't walk out of there doing high-fives.
"But we did get a commitment from them to keep talking with us."
* * *
Everyone in an interview has an agenda, even if it's merely to get the writer out of the office as politely as possible. Few interviewees bring a list.
Garth Atkinson, CEO of Calgary International, brought a list. He is a financial guy, after all. At the top of his list is the ongoing debate in Canada over how much the major airports should pay the federal government in rent. When the major cities' airports were transferred over to local authorities, leases were set up that airports say are outdated and need to be adjusted. What sounded good then needs to be reconsidered now, airports say. In effect, since all surplus revenue by law is redirected into each individual airport, an onerous rent means the federal coffers are sucking money out of the various airport capital funds. Some think it's more than their fair share.
The transfer of the large airports from the federal government is considered a huge success in Canada. The goals of improving the airports by way of local control and encouraging private investment are being realized. But airports feel they are being held back by the outdated rent structure.
Alas, as the U.S. has its Washington, Canada has its Ottawa.
Thanks for reading, eh?
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