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Fri, Sep 05, 2003

FAA 'Competition' Plan Requirements Impose Significant Burden on Airports

Airport Organizations Assert That Air Service Is a Problem for Airports, Not Competition

Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) have submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Competition Plan requirements. Specifically, the airport organizations addressed issues related to mandates that require large and medium hub airports submit lengthy justifications to receive their Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) revenues and the monies they are entitled to under the FAA's Airport Improvement Program.

"Our airport members believe that this is one of the most egregious examples of the federal government imposing significant burdens on airports without justification," said David Z. Plavin, President of ACI-NA. OMB solicited comments on the continued collection of information under Title 49 Section 40117(k) better known as Competition Plans.

While the FAA estimated that airports nationwide required 3,240 hours to comply with the regulatory requirement, ACI-NA's members report an estimated 8,000 hours, more than twice the FAA's estimate. In addition, the FAA's estimate did not include an average delay of 30.2 weeks in obtaining FAA approval -- delays that slow down, and raise the cost of, vital airport safety, security and capacity projects.

"At a time when airlines and airports are doing everything they can to cut costs, it is time for the Congress and the FAA to eliminate or at least reduce the burden of these needless requirements," asserted Plavin. "Attracting air service is a primary duty of an airport director, we don't need what passes for encouragement by the Congress or the FAA," he continued.

"DoT regulations already enable air carriers to file complaints with DOT if they feel they have been denied access," said Todd Hauptli, Senior Executive Vice President for AAAE. "The final mandate to airports was expanded significantly from the original legislation and leaves airports not only shouldering a huge burden, but forced to go back to DoT to ask for the data to meet these detailed reporting requirements," he added.

In the comments ACI-NA cites U.S. Department of Transportation data that reports significant gains in market share by low-fare carriers over the last three years calling into question whether there is any competitiveness problem in the aviation industry today. "With many of the airports that are required to report facing reductions in scheduled flights and available seats well over 20 percent (June 2003 compared to June 2000), the problem for these airports is not competition but air service," according to ACI-NA and AAAE's comments.

[ANN has requested, and awaits, the FAA's response --ed.]

FMI: www.aci-na.org/docs/OMBcomments.pdf

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