Inside the fence
By John Infanger, Editorial Director
John Infanger, Editorial Director In the midst of incredibly good times, it can be difficult to heed the winds of caution ...
Earlier this year, San Francisco Int?l proposed dealing with its airline capacity problem by getting United Airlines to reconfigure the type of aircraft it brings into SFO. Specifically, it was targeting smaller aircraft United uses on its short hauls on the West Coast. Airlines see such behavior as an airport attempting to tell them how to run their businesses. Airport managers saw the move as courageous.
Logan, the airport is attempting to deal with its overnight
capacity problem by telling carriers they cannot park
on taxiways overnight, leading to a formal complaint
filed with FAA.
At New York?s
LaGuardia, the removal of slot controls saw carriers
proposing hundreds of additional flights. The airport
said, in essence, hold off — we have a capacity
problem. DOT is now looking into it.
of air traffic control modernization and airport capacity
are indicative of a transportation system that hasn?t
kept pace with demand.
Regarding ATC, we face a reality that the users like the old system of FAA operating things. But it isn?t working. To take ATC out of FAA?s purview is a risky proposition. FAA is expected to modernize the ATC system to meet the dramatic increases in demand it is experiencing, but it can?t.
To help capacity, we?ll have $3.2 billion dedicated to infrastructure in the next fiscal year. Airport groups cry it isn?t enough.
Airport managers don?t want to dictate capacity, but they are beginning to find that they must. Says the FAA Administrator: ?I think we?re going to run into more and more of these issues.? Mmmm.
Where we?re headed is a U.S. air transportation system in which peak period pricing dictates who uses the major airports, while the ATC situation leads to gridlock in major air traffic corridors and airlines dictate the airspace. Neither answer is one many in industry find attractive.
Without the ability to handle demand at airports or to move aircraft in the airspace, we come to a no-growth conclusion.
* * *
On the subject of growth, a group of British cargo carriers is calling on the U.S. to enter a Transatlantic open skies agreement, with the ultimate goal a global skies free trade pact. It sees the U.S. as a major barrier in achieving such a goal. Their case is made on pages 24-25. Considering that cargo growth is impacting everything from the largest airports to the smallest on-demand charter operations, it?s worth hearing another point of view.
In fact, air cargo is expected to outpace airline passenger growth twofold in the next ten years. One potential obstacle for growth, says one industry rep: airports that cannot accommodate space for facilities.
* * *
Drew Steketee, most recently a senior VP with AOPA, is the new president/CEO of the BE A PILOT Foundation. It?s as if one is watching destiny at play.
And ... once in a while we get the chance to come into contact with a person who is a natural at combining professionalism with caring and genuine customer service. Jan Herron, who recently retired from Multi Service, is such a person. We wish her well as she takes on new challenges.
Thanks for reading.
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