By Cathy Keefe
Hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars for the U.S. economy are one step closer, thanks to today’s Senate vote to reauthorize funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“This bill creates and supports jobs,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “We’re very thankful for the strong support the senators showed the traveling public today. Now we must turn our attention to getting the bill passed in the House, and the U.S. Travel Association looks forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to get that done.”
A 2008 U.S. Travel survey found that air travelers avoided 41 million trips from May 2007 to May 2008, or slightly more than 100,000 trips per day because of aviation congestion. That translates into a $26.5 billion loss to the U.S. economy.
The Senate FAA Reauthorization bill will reduce delays and airport congestion by accelerating airport modernization efforts through implementing the NextGen air traffic control system, converting the nation’s air traffic control from a ground-based system to one that uses GPS.
“We need travelers moving efficiently, not staring at delays and cancellations on airport monitors.” Dow said. “The U.S. has waited far too long to modernize its air travel infrastructure, and our economy is suffering because of it. The FAA Reauthorization bill is critical to building an air travel system for the 21st century.
The Senate bill also improves consumer protections for air travelers by requiring airlines to develop contingency plans for delays while passengers are on an aircraft. Plans must include how the airlines will provide adequate food, water and access to restrooms. Airlines must also provide passengers with timely and accurate information regarding the flight.
Rep. John Mica, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said Feb. 8 that the FAA reauthorization bill is “the top priority” and that he hopes “to have this bill on the president’s desk before the current 17th extension expires” at the end of March.
Source: U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION