The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released a report that showed international visitation and international visitor spending was down significantly in August 2009 compared with the same period a year ago. According to the DOC, 5.4 million international visitors traveled to the United States in August 2009, a decrease of four percent compared to August 2008. International visitors spent $10 billion in August 2009, nearly 21 percent less than visitors spent one year ago.
With this news in mind, airport and airline management, government officials and consultants will meet at the 2009 ACI-NA International Aviation Issues Seminar this Thursday, Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C., to discuss current challenges facing international air travel and trade.
Among the issues to be discussed will be the state of international airlines alliances, government air transport policies and negotiations, and facilitation policies and procedures impacting airports’ ability to retain and secure new international air service.
Here’s a taste of what to expect:
- Keynote: Christa Fornarotto, deputy assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs, Department of Transportation
- Roundtable Discussion on Alliances
- Incentives: What’s Legal; What Works?
Click here to view a list of sessions and speakers. Hope to see you there!
Airports Council International-North America President Greg Principato sent a letter to the newly formed bipartisan Congressional Jobs Now! Caucus urging lawmakers to include funding for airport infrastructure projects in the Caucus’s upcoming discussions.
Principato said that the improvement of airport infrastructure not only helps increase safety for the traveling public, but it also is an investment in the future of our national transportation infrastructure system and helps creates jobs.
The FAA reported that by June all but $5 million of the $1.1 billion appropriated by the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding included in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) had been authorized to 323 separate projects throughout the United States. These projects have created positive short- and long-term effects on communities by providing local jobs and opportunities for economic growth.
In addition to job creation, Principato stressed that further investment in airport infrastructure would allow the industry to take a step forward in preparing for NextGen, which begins and ends at the airport.
Larry Kellner, Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, spoke at the Aero Club in Washington, D.C. today, and offered his thoughts on the industry and how it can become more stable. ACI-NA was seated front and center at the Aero Club, as Kellner listed three pieces of advice for airlines, airline partners and government regulators.
1. Fix the Air Traffic Control (ATC) System:
According to Kellner, airline delays have cost the United States roughly $40 billion. Given that the industry makes up about 5 percent of the U.S. GDP, Kellner explained that the investment in the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) would provide huge benefits to the economy, not to mention improvements in the passenger air travel experience. Without the investment in NextGen, Kellner indicated that “it will be hard to put stability back in the industry.”
2. Environmental Regulations on a Global Scale:
While an improvement in the ATC system in the U.S. would improve fuel efficiency by about 10 percent, Kellner also called for a global approach to environmental regulations. “We are a mobile and global industry, and we need regulations to be built on a global scale.” According to Kellner, the cap and trade system simply won’t work, given the lack of predictability in costs.
3. Happy Employees Equals Happy Passengers
As his final point, Kellner stressed the need to build a strong employee base. “Happy employees equals happy passengers; happy passengers equals happy shareholders.” The key to building a happy employee foundation is to find a labor program that doesn’t create internal conflicts. “You need strong employees to be strong carriers. The goal is really all about creating stability.”
Also at the Aero Club today, the late Bill DeCota, former Aviation Director for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), was awarded the 2009 Donald D. Engen Aero Club Trophy. The trophy is given to an individual, team, or organization for a lifetime of achievement in aviation, a single event, or series of events that reaffirms the Wright Brothers’ standard of excellence in aviation. Sue Baer from PANYNJ accepted the award.
By Jane Calderwood
This week the traveling public faced another problem brought about by aging technology: the outage of flight planning computers in Salt Lake City which left planes grounded and travelers stuck. This is the same computer system that wrecked havoc in the summer of 2008 when it went down for an entire afternoon.
If Congress needed a poster child to pass the multi-year FAA Reauthorization (HR 915, S 1451), the FAA’s aging flight planning technology should fit the bill. The FAA has been waiting for more than two years, through seven extensions (number eight is in the offing); for the authority, funding and planning that a multiyear reauthorization bill provides. The House has done its job, as has the Senate Commerce Committee. The Senate Finance Committee needs to step to the plate and address its piece so the full Senate can consider the bill.
We cannot hope to get NextGen, a priority for this Administration in place, in our generation, let alone address the current and future infrastructure and safety needs of the traveling public without an FAA Reauthorization bill this year.
Imagine the outcome if the flight planning computers had gone down this coming Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year…Let’s hope Congress doesn’t wait until it comes to that to pass the bill.
As the White House prepares for its Dec. 3 Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, ACI-NA President Greg Principato is urging the Department of Transportation to keep airport infrastructure projects top of mind.
In a letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Principato said that local communities have realized the benefits of the $1.1. billion in Airport Improvement Program funding included in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. By June, the FAA reported that all but $5 million of the $1.1 billion appropriated had been authorized to 323 separate projects throughout the U.S. And there are many more shovel-ready AIP projects that could be completed over the next two years ($3 billion worth, according to the FAA).
Investments in airport infrastructure projects makes sense, not only as a way to create jobs and fuel economic growth, but also to ensure continued safety for the traveling public and continued investment in the future of our national transportation system.