Friday, September 28, 2007

Brace for Impact

This can’t be good.

President Bush has summoned his secretary of transportation and the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration to a meeting on Thursday to discuss air traffic delays in New York and around the country. “

There’s a lesson I learned when working for the FAA. When the FAA takes the action that you’ve been recommending...

”The F.A.A. will also meet with airline executives to consider options, including the possibility of reimposing slot controls... “

...they’ll mess it up. Every time.

I know, I know. You just can’t make some folks happy. The Administration is looking at what I’m been saying to look at and I’m still not happy. Well, it’s not quite that simple.

Later on in the New York Times article quoted above you’ll see this.

”... among the ideas under consideration is congestion pricing, in which airlines would be charged more for landing at busy periods. “

And you will continue to see that in every news piece that checks with the Administration for information (which will be all of them.)

As I’ve stated before, I’m somewhat ambivalent about a market-based approach. What I’m looking for is what works. Congestion pricing might work. It might not work. Working out a market-based system is going to be a sticky matter. Fighting over who gets to keep the money always is. But let me put it another way. It’s going to take time -- a lot of time -- to work out.

On the other hand, history has taught us what does work (slot restrictions) and we can implement them right now. Or the FAA Administrator can. It’s the law.

United States Code -- Title 14: Aeronautics and Space

93.130   Suspension of allocations.

The Administrator may suspend the effectiveness of any allocation prescribed in §93.123 and the reservation requirements prescribed in §93.125 if he finds such action to be consistent with the efficient use of the airspace. Such suspension may be terminated whenever the Administrator determines that such action is necessary for the efficient use of the airspace.

(emphasis added)

I know that reads “backwards” (they’re lawyers, what do you expect ?) but in short, the “high density rule” can be suspended or enforced, as needed, by the Administrator. The “high density rule” applies to LaGuardia, Newark, Kennedy, O'Hare, and Washington National Airports. And as should be obvious, the “Administrator” (aka the Bush Administration) has chosen not to enforce it and will continue not to enforce it for as long as politically possible.

Please notice I didn’t say for as long as is safely possible or (as the law says) “is necessary for the efficient use of the airspace.” We passed those points some time ago.

Hey ! I know. Let’s privatize it. Don’t let them make you lose the flick folks. Privatization is still the end game -- just as it has been from the start. Brace for impact.

Don Brown
September 28, 2007

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