ACI-NA Supports Las Vegas’ New Air Service Incentives

McCarran International Airport is working to alter FAA policies so that it can offer incentives to those carriers flying larger or more frequent flights to Las Vegas. And, ACI-NA on Tuesday filed comments with the FAA encouraging greater flexibility in the implementation and review of air service incentive programs.

“ACI-NA believes that air service incentive programs play an important role in ensuring that commercial airports are able to attract domestic and international air service for their communities, and thus promote the development of a robust national air transportation system in which air travelers can find service options to travel throughout the United States, and indeed, throughout the world.”

According a February filing with the FAA Office for Airports, Las Vegas wants to provide up to a 100 percent credit for its landing fee to any airline that increases its landing weight over the same month of the prior year. After the airport suffered a 17 percent drop in services from 2007 to 2010, McCarran developed the program hoping to reverse the slide.

ACI-NA in the comments stressed that since the airport’s proposed incentive program does not reveal any inconsistency with federal obligations or requirements, the petition should be approved.

ACI-NA further pointed out that the fact that the program has been designed in a manner that is not addressed in the FAA’s 2010 Guidebook concerning Air Carrier Incentive Programs, should not be used as a reason to deny the request. “If the Guidebook is to serve a useful function in enabling airports to meet air service needs of their communities, it must provide greater flexibility for review and implementation of programs expeditiously and before air service offerings decline to threatening levels.”

The flexibility is essential, ACI-NA noted “especially during a time when airports are struggling to meet their revenue needs without the benefit of increased federal support through PFC increases, and without long-term AIP funding at necessary levels, it is critical that creative approaches to attract air travel service be applauded rather than impeded by processes that delay FAA’s substantive decision.”

Finally, ACI-NA recommended that FAA streamline the process for review of such proposals in the future, pointing out that public comment on every air service incentive proposal submitted to the FAA would unduly delay a quick review and quick implementation of an incentive program. Las Vegas had hoped to begin its proposed program this month.