The office of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., issued the following news release:

Without modernization of our nation's air traffic control systems, already mounting delays will turn into severe gridlock within the next 10 years, said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, Ranking Republican on the Senate's Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee.

"Past incidents where passengers were delayed for several hours have given us a taste of what the aviation industry could be," Senator Lott said. "The only real solution to the problems facing airlines is aggressive modernization of our antiquated air traffic control system in order to better manage our crowded skies."

Senator Lott, working with Chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation and air travel representatives to find a way to adequately share the burden of upgrading to a more advanced control system known as NextGen.

A DOT Inspector General report released this week outlined several suggestions that would help improve airline customer service and minimize long delays. These actions include:

* Detailing policies and plans to minimize delays and allow passengers to debark the plane after a specified length of delay,

* Involving airport operators in contingency planning for flight disruption,

* Continuing existing practices to help mitigate delays, and

* Completing outstanding DOT, FAA, airline, and airport recommendations - some dating back to 2001 - in order to improve airline customer service

"The aviation system is immensely complex and has many different elements that must work together smoothly," Senator Lott said. "We need an air traffic control system that can adapt to congestion and do a better job of dealing with bad weather. We need expanded airports and new runways to deal with more planes and passengers. And we need the FAA to manage the air space so it is used most efficiently.

"In short, we need a full package to deal with this problem. The FAA Reauthorization Senator Rockefeller and I introduced addresses the problems of congestion and travel delays."

S. 1300, Senators Lott and Rockefeller's reauthorization, was voted out of the Commerce Committee on May 16, 2007.

Contact: Nick Simpson, 202/224-4239.