JetBlue Comes to Its Senses
September 7, 2007
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  • Finally an airline sees the light!!!!

    JetBlue Splits With ATA On Calculating User Fees

    By Lori Ranson/Aviation Daily


    has declared its opposition to the Air Transport Association’s FAA

    funding proposal and mounted its own campaign on Capitol Hill last week

    urging law makers to reject ATA’s suggestions.


    CEO Dave Barger sent letters to heads of pertinent committees in the

    House and Senate outlining JetBlue’s arguments and declaring ATA’s

    proposal “thinly veiled.”

    The airline

    takes exception to two aspects of ATA’s proposal – the domestic

    distance tax and exemptions for the first 250 miles of a domestic


    JetBlue argues that ATA is opting

    to measure distance flown using a “great circle” calculation, rather

    than actual flight distances. To illustrate that point, Barger cited an

    example of a carrier flying direct from New York to Tucson. Yet another

    carrier technically flying between those two points could have a

    flightplan that included a flight from Islip to Baltimore, with the

    second leg including a flight between BWI and Los Angeles. The final

    portion of that itinerary includes a Los Angeles-Tucson flight.


    explained that the N.Y.-Tucson direct flight had a 2,136-mile distance,

    while the distance of the multi-stop flight was 26% longer at 2,689

    miles, plus three more takeoffs and landings. In essence the multi-stop

    carrier is paying the same fee as JetBlue, but is placing more of a

    burden on the ATC system.

    “The FAA and

    ATA both acknowledge that takeoffs and landings, along with time in the

    system are the most accurate drivers of ATC costs, yet the ATA’s

    formula disregards these cost drivers and penalizes JetBlue’s low-cost

    business model that efficiently avoids hub stops and relies primarily

    on nonstop, point-to-point service,” Barger said.


    JetBlue spokeswoman noted that the rationale for using pure

    origin-and-destination mileage is for simplicity and ease of

    administration, but she noted that while, “it is ‘easy,’ it’s also

    wrong. This provision does not produce revenues equal to the use of the

    system, one of the ATA’s most fervently cited guiding principles.”


    also takes issue with ATA characterizing the 250-mile exemption as a

    way to reduce the burden on smaller communities. The carrier argues

    ATA’s plan exempts more than 25% of all domestic flights, including all

    the shuttle flights from New York City to Boston and Washington. Those

    flights alone, JetBlue said, produce more than 100 flights per day in

    each direction. Barger pointed to similar examples of Miami-Orlando,

    Dallas-Houston and Los Angeles-Las Vegas, which “despite the burden

    they place on the busiest air traffic control centers in the nation,

    would also be exempt from paying the distance-based fee under the ATA’s


    While JetBlue supports a

    genuine small-community ATC fee exemption, “this disingenuous plan

    mocks the importance of small community air service,” Barger said.

    JetBlue did propose alternative solutions to its problems with ATA’s

    proposal, but they weren’t taken, the carrier’s spokeswoman explained.

    She noted the carrier had done everything possible “not to take a

    singular stand.”

    ATA had no comment on the letters JetBlue sent to members of Congress. The current FAA reauthorization expires Sept. 30.