Inside the Fence

Jan. 8, 2005

2005: The year the airline industry is again redefined and the feds take a more balanced approach to aviation security ...

United Airlines may have to sell its soul to the devil in its never-ending reorganization effort. Delta begins hemorrhaging serious money, so it decides to start a fare war. Meanwhile, at Southwest, one can picture the execs sticking pins into a stuffed RJ that has "US Airways" emblazoned on the fuselage. Today Pittsburgh International; tomorrow, Hawaii.

Predictions from someone who just watches this stuff? Goodbye, US Airways. Maybe United, too.

Perhaps the easiest prediction for the new year is that DHS/TSA will push for a more uniform implementation of security at airports. (As we go to press, President Bush has named federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff to head up Homeland Security.)

On page 34, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation offers his thoughts on directions DHS/TSA and airports need to take in the year ahead.

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In November, the Airport Consultants Council at its annual meeting in Naples, FL awarded Jim DeLong, A.A.E., its Aviation Award of Excellence for 2004. DeLong's career was anything but boring ' his most recent achievements included finishing the new Denver International and overseeing a $1 billion UPS expansion at Louisville. A DeLong prediction:

"I've concluded that the airline industry is destined for re-regulation, probably in the not too distant future." He explains that airlines are subject to political intensity, both locally and nationally ' perhaps too much so. The industry is too important to let it go down in flames.

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Ted Soliday, director of the Naples Airport, was celebrating new RJ service from his airport to Atlanta via Delta, replacing 414 service. Soliday says he's not a believer in subsidizing airlines to get service; however, "we had to do something to get airlines interested in Naples again." (Could it be that all of Naples' noise about noise makes them cautious?)

At Naples, the "airlines pay nothing but for phones in the terminal," says Soliday. The business community put together a revenue guarantee, raising $1 million in two months.

A prediction from Soliday:
"Delta has already told us that they won't be able to handle 50- to 60-seat jets into Atlanta within the next five to six years" because of air traffic/hub congestion.

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Finally, GAO's report on GA security is out ( Risk management, it says, is the key, along with FAA establishing a "documented process" for flight restrictions.
Thanks for reading.