Inside the Fence

Dec. 8, 2003

It's all about the money. That's the impression one gets after attending this fall's conference circuit. And security ...

The trouble with money is there's not enough to go around. Even when there is, Congress holds it hostage so Members can honestly smile when having their pictures taken with union leaders. The dishonesty comes when the controllers make it sound as though FAA has sold safety - and their pensions - to the devil in return for a little privatization. For two years people have complained that the Transportation Secur-ity Administration didn't quite know what was needed to be put in place to make airports safe. Now the question on everyone's mind, including TSA's, is, Where's the money to pay for it? It turns out that even when TSA knows what to spend the money on, it has trouble disseminating it. Congress, meanwhile, expresses doubt about any statements made in which the words TSA and finance are found in the same sentence. Speaking of money, the general aviation aircraft manufacturers kept theirs close to the vest rather than spending it on exorbitant exhibits at NBAA in Orlando. Of all the things that stand out from 19 consecutive NBAA conventions, the most obvious is the dominance of the OEMs, from complete mockups to actual aircraft. Not so, 2003. It will take the OEMs a bit longer to recover from the economic swoon. A first-timer to NBAA would have been impressed with the activity, the record number of exhibiting companies, and the 28,000-plus attendees. But when new aircraft don't dominate the discussion and blocks of trade show space, well ... And on the subject of money, many airports are getting hard-pressed, according to FAA, which is going to study the impact of airline finances on large airports. Of all the economic challenges, they want to know why they're spending time and money to create competition plans to show they are serious about attracting new entrants. Meanwhile, on the private sector money watch, NetJets is actively not buying new airplanes, which is news. It also reports that Marquis Jet is now its largest customer - not actual fractional owners. Marquis sells time, much like a phone card - only more money. Look into a crystal ball and its not hard to envision a nationwide charter network by the name of NetJets. You can bet money on it.

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Finally, our own Ralph Hood is now a Hall of Famer. Check out page 14; then if so inclined give him an Attaboy via [email protected].
Thanks for reading.