Inside the Fence

Jan. 8, 2003

Talk with David Plavin, and you’ll hear from a man who likes the idea of reform ...

John Infanger
Editorial director

Plavin, president of ACI-NA, talks more elsewhere (page 20) on financial reform for commercial airports. Here

’s a starter kit ...

"Right now, the airlines are going after airports, airport by airport, trying to bludgeon them into lowering their rates and charges. I haven’t heard of any success.

"It’s a silly campaign because if you understand airport rates and charges, what you realize first is that they’re cost-based; they have to be, are required to be.

"Secondly, airports are very fixed cost, capital intensive. Something like half an airport’s costs are related to retiring debt ... and the rest of it is what they have to do in order to keep their certification with FAA – fire protection; runway operations.

"So, the kind of numbers we’re talking about is such cheap change that you kind of say, what they hell do these guys think is going on here? And the answer is, they’re desperate."

* * *

Lo and behold, amidst the wrangling between industry and EPA over secondary containment for aviation refuelers, the agency comes out with a new SPCC rule that reportedly will encompass the refueler issue, among others. "It goes beyond aviation," says David Kennedy, government affairs director for NATA. Indeed it does, as evidenced by a subsequent lawsuit by the American Petroleum Institute that has led EPA to delay implementation of the new SPCC ruling a couple of months, and perhaps longer.

"The lawsuit got their attention," says Kennedy, who points out that EPA’s Oil Spill office may be becoming more pragmatic under the new leadership of Mike Cook. NATA, ATA, AAAE, and ACI-NA are the aviation groups working with EPA – on both the SPCC and refueler issues, which apparently have become one and the same.

It looks as though a wide range of interpretations are needed in various industry segments. As a result, the aviation associations think a delay of a year may be necessary so industry and EPA can more clearly define what needs to be regulated. EPA seems open to the discussion, says Kennedy.

* * *

Jim Coyne of NATA says he was prepared to discuss each of 99 senators if anyone were to ask about a likely candidate to chair the Senate Subcom-mittee on Aviation in the new Congress. The one man not on the list: Trent Lott (R-MS), who after all was majority leader. But because politics is unpredictable, we now have Sen. Lott becoming directly linked to aviation.

By the way, Lott’s replacement to head up the Senate – Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) – is a pilot.

The most interesting maneuvering this session may be over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes TSA. As it stands, funding of security transcends many committees in both Houses.

* * *

Finally ...

Goodbye, Jan Herron.

Goodbye, Jerry Olson.

For years, Jan brought cheer to fellow workers, customers, and friends of Multi Service. After a long battle, she died in her hometown, Harrisburg, IL.

Jerry, the director at Cheyenne, WY, had been serving as the chairman of AAAE, a position he valued. At 43, he left wife Janelle and children Austin and Taylor much too soon.

We’ll miss you both.