AAAE Report

June 8, 2003

What’s in a Song?

"L.A. International Airport" is more than a place, it’s a song. Delegates to this year’s AAAE convention witnessed a choreographed grand opening complete with dancers swaying to the airport tune, a lyrical rewrite from a long lost hit.

No word on whether or not other airports are considering a song of their own as well, or if there’s a contest anywhere for Best Airport Song. Perhaps it’s a new marketing technique to keep the airport top-of-mind with constituents.

I.G. Ken Mead: Era of Enormous Uncertainty

DOT Inspector General Ken Mead says the industry is entering a period when security still dominates, but other issues are gaining in strength, most notably financial pressures due to airline economics and the need for an aviation reauthorization bill. It is an era of "enormous uncertainty," says Mead, who suggests, because of the uncertainty, that a two-year reauthorization bill may be more suited to the times.

Other observations from Mead:

• Airlines will bring more pressure on airports to help reduce their costs. "They’re extremely skilled at this," he says.

• Air service to small communities in the Eastern U.S. is down as much as 50 percent.

• On the potential for removing the cap on PFCs: "I don’t think the mood is right."

• "I find attractive" a Senate proposal to create a capital fund for financing security.

• The DBE (disadvantaged business enterprise) program is "a trouble spot that is growing across the country." Some of the problems include DBEs that don’t do the work, don’t exist at all, relinquish the work to others, or simply lie. Asks Mead: "Can you be a multi-millionaire and be a DBE?"

• "Cost control needs to become an imperative for FAA just as it is for airlines and airports." Mead points out that the average FAA employee has received a 32 percent increase in salary since Congress passed legislation to allow the agency to operate more as a business.

• Though not in favor of the privatization of FAA towers, Mead supports the Contract Tower Program, which he says allows FAA to redistribute controllers to other locations.