Monthly Archives: January 2010

Teamsters to the Senate: Pass FAA Reauthorization Now

By Jane Calderwood
James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, called on the US Senate to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill today.  He stated that “one of the things the FAA bill does is help pay for airport construction” and airport construction, as we all know, equals jobs.  Hoffa estimates the bill will provide 125,000 jobs a year.

Pointing out that the reauthorization effort has languished for three years; Hoffa noted that 35 Senators from both parties signed a letter in November calling for passage of the bill.  He also makes the point that while three months have passed since then without any action on the bill, we are now three months closer to the start of the construction season.

The Teamsters’ aren’t the only union to press the Senate on the FAA bill this week. Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, told Senators on Wednesday at a meeting of the Democratic Steering Committee focused on transportation infrastructure, that while the Senate needed to move quickly on its jobs bill because there was “$70 billion worth of jobs projects ready to go,” they also needed to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill because it is “another jobs bill.”

As Hoffa explains it, the lack of action on the Senate’s part means, “It isn’t just the bill that will languish – its’ 125,000 people who need jobs.”  Let’s hope the Senate gets the message.

ACI-NA Chairman Pushes Senators on FAA, PFC and AMT

By Jane Calderwood

ACI-NA Chairman Hardy Acree participated in the Senate Democratic Steering Committee’s discussion on rebuilding America’s infrastructure Wednesday.  He joined 16 other participants ranging from trade unions to the U.S. Council of Mayors in a vigorous discussion of ways to invest in roads, airports, railways and building construction in an effort to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) discussed his recent visit to McCarran International Airport, where he toured their $2.3 billion terminal project.  He noted that the AMT waiver for private activity bonds included in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act allowed McCarran to sell bonds, without which the project would have stopped and over 1,600 jobs would have been lost.  Acree told of the difference stimulus bill’s AMT provisions made in Sacramento.  Their $1.1 billion terminal renovation project was underway in 2008 when the bond market wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t until the AMT waiver was signed into law and they were able to sell $480 million in bonds that they were sure they could complete the project.  The AMT waiver was directly responsible for preserving 1,200 construction jobs at the airport.

Ed Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO made the pitch that Congress needed to pass the FAA Reauthorization bill noting it is “another jobs bill”.  This was echoed by Acree along with a push for an increase in the PFC which he called the “mother’s milk of airport development.”

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, discussed making better use of the Build America Bonds and that he was considering crafting “different flavored” bonds for different industries.  Acree spoke with Senator Wyden privately afterwards about ACI-NA’s interest in an “airport flavored” Build America Bond, and ACI-NA staff are set to meet with the senator’s staff on Friday to discuss the issue.  Senator Wyden also said he would speak directly with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) about the importance of making the AMT relief permanent.

Updates from the ACI-NA Air Service and Data Planning Seminar

A Welcome from Randall Walker, McCarran Airport

While the current economic climate is “undoubtedly the most difficult economic environment I’ve encountered in nearly two decades,” the director of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport encouraged attendees of ACI-NA’s air service and data planning seminar to continue the hard work and make the “intelligent decisions necessary to improve our respective organizations’ positions during these troubled times.”

“The fact that you’re here today demonstrates that you’re ready to continue to put forth that work and make those good decisions,” said Randall Walker, director of aviation for Clark County Department of Aviation. Walker also was ACI-NA’s 2008 chair of the board of directors.

Walker welcomed the more than 90 airline route planners, consultants and airport recruiters to the third annual ACI-NA conference Jan. 24-26 in Las Vegas.

Airports and airlines exist with a “unique symbiosis,” Walker said, adding that at times the two might clash over certain issues, but ultimately both sides need each other to achieve prolonged success.

The economic climate has been particularly challenging, Walker said, as airlines take steps to handle financial pressures and most airports deal with the reductions in revenue that comes with fewer flights and fewer passengers.

“To remain competitive, it’s become increasingly important to understand how to make your destination attractive to carriers. That’s where data comes into play,” Walker said.

Walker said a recent “success story” is the recruitment of British Airways to McCarran. “Our team identified the benefits BA could offer,” and BA saw the potential in Las Vegas as well. In October, BA became the first foreign carrier in McCarran’s history to inaugurate daily service.

Advised Walker: “Sometimes all it takes to get the ball rolling is putting the right data in the ears of the right person. Let’s each make that our goal going forward.”

Building Community Relationships in Air Service

The main ingredient for successful community partnerships in air service development is having a core group of community leaders that are informed, engaged and have the capacity to exercise real leadership in air service issues, Mike Boggs of Mead Hunt told attendees of the 2010 ACI-NA Air Service and Data Planning Seminar.

Boggs moderated a discussion with Brian Pratte of Reno and Richard Garson of Halifax. Common themes that surfaced from the discussion:

  • Airports are forming independent working groups comprising leaders in business, travel and tourism, all of whom possess common goals and objectives to engage in conversations with specific airlines.
  • Many of these working groups contribute funds toward marketing and promotion activities touting their destinations, utilizing billboards and rewards programs, e-marketing campaigns, preferred fares and hotel discounts.
  • The coordinated promotional activities from these partnerships are bringing positive return on investment, with data showing increased loads.

Said Garson of Halifax: “Working with tourism and travel is challenging and tough, and we have to work for every dollar we earn. But we’re finding that it’s paying off.”

Focus of Climate Change Debate Shifting on the Hill

By Annie Russo
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) begins implementing its rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the United States Senate is taking notice.  Last year, the EPA deemed global warming as a risk to public health and welfare and used it to justify regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  It has been estimated by ACI-NA Environmental staff that approximately 10-20 airports will be required to now monitor greenhouse gas emissions under the EPA rule.

On Thursday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a resolution that would block the EPA from enforcing these regulations.  So far, three Democrats and 36 Republicans have cosponsored the resolution.  Even with growing support, especially from Democrats representing large agricultural states, the Murkowski bill is not expected to pass the Senate.  However, it is believed that this legislation may change the climate change debate in the Senate.  The Murkowski legislation could be used as leverage to include language in the climate change bill that would preempt EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.  The House passed climate change bill does contain preemption language.

As the Senate climate change debate is set to continue in the coming months, it is likely that we will see more efforts like Senator Murkowski’s.  With the mid-term elections on the horizon, efforts to protect important home state industries by vulnerable Senators will likely continue.

Two Sisters, 54 Haitian Orphans and PIT

By Jeff Martinelli
Public Affairs Manager
Pittsburgh International Airport
Allegheny County Airport Authority

On Thursday, Jan., 14, less than 48 hours after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, news hit in Pittsburgh that two sisters, Ali McMutrie and Jamie McMutrie Heckman, were desperately seeking help for the children they were taking care of from the BRESMA orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The sisters, Pittsburgh-area natives, had sent text messages describing the direness of the situation and they feared for the welfare of more than 100 children.

By Friday of that week local officials had swung into action and a plan to rescue 54 of those orphans and Ali and Jamie began to take shape. Through the combined efforts of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, Allegheny County, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Republic Airlines and many other local hospitals and charities, a plane loaded with 4,000 pounds of relief supplies and a contingent of emergency medical staff left Pittsburgh International Airport at approximately Noon on Monday, January 18.

Once the aircraft arrived it would be given one hour to unload the aircraft and then board the children for the return flights to Pittsburgh. Apparently that almost didn’t happen. Meanwhile, back in Pittsburgh, officials were working hard to make sure their plans were set.

So much of that planning at Pittsburgh International Airport, however, depended on how the flight was going to arrive. It was known that the flight would land in Florida, refuel, and head to Pittsburgh. It was also known that first leg of the flight would be on a military aircraft. But after that, the questions were abundant:

• Would the children clear Customs and Immigration in Florida or here in Pittsburgh?
• Would they be landing in Pittsburgh on a military aircraft or a charter?
• If it were a military aircraft, which of the two bases at Pittsburgh International would the flight arrive?
• Would a charter pull into our gates or head to our FBO?
• What about the condition of the children and the 30-degree weather?
• Where would we put the press?
• Do the Governor and the Congressman want to have a press conference at the airport?
• If so, where do we park satellite trucks for the Today Show and CNN?

Finally, after numerous delays, it was determined that Republic Airways would bring the aircraft to our cargo area where our Operations Staff, Fire Department, and Police Department – along with the Department of Homeland Security and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services we able to safely move the children from the aircraft, to buses and then on to the local hospital.

Meanwhile, the Governor, Congressman and Hospital Official, and one of the sisters were transported to the FBO, for a press conference.
Certainly it was a hectic day. The uncertainty – or fluidness – of the situation created obstacles. However, through it all the Pittsburgh International Airport community knew that it was making a big difference in the lives of 54 children and two incredible sisters that day. It was that common belief that truly made this mission a success.

For pictures of the plane’s arrival at Pittsburgh International Airport, go to www.FlyPittsburgh.com.