Airline Maneuvering: It’s Déjà vu All Over Again

 - July 24, 2007, 11:36 AM

At a Senate hearing on FAA financing last week, Delta Air Lines COO Jim Whitehurst, speaking for the Air Transport Association (ATA), reiterated one of ATA’s longstanding assertions that tracking departures and time in the system is the best way to measure the costs that aircraft impose for ATC services. The association first proposed such tracking in March 2006. Whitehurst said in written testimony that, “For simplicity and ease of administration, distance is used as a proxy for time in the system.” Whitehurst told the senators that the formula would generate the revenue needed to finance the next-generation ATC system (NextGen) and restore fairness as it ends the “indefensible subsidy of business aviation that could and should pay its fair share.” The Alliance for Aviation Across America said the plan is a tax cut for the airlines because it exempts flights of less than 250 miles. According to the alliance, that means a quarter of the industry’s top 12 busiest and most lucrative routes would be exempt.