Aviation/Airport Stories We Are Following for the Week of September 9 – 13, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sequester and Budget Cuts Loom Over Aviation. With the end of the fiscal year approaching (Sept 30), and no new budget for DOT in sight stories are beginning to appear concerning the effects of the sequester and what will happen if no agreement is reached.  DHS Secy Napolitano warns of the long security lines at airports because of budget cuts. http://usat.ly/19ArqjF Airline execs warn of the disruptive effect that air traffic tower closures will have as the next round of sequester cuts loom in October. http://reut.rs/1evTOaj Stay tuned, there certainly will be more to this story.

Failing to Execute a “Go-Around” Leading Cause of Accidents. Bloomberg is reporting this morning that the three recent U.S. air crashes could have been avoided if the pilots had aborted their landings at the first sign of trouble and done a “go-around.” According to the article, airline rules state that if an approach is “unstablized” at 1000 ft in poor visibility or 500 ft in clear conditions, the pilot should go around. But this does not happen. Pilots say the criteria are unrealistic and want stds that require aborted landings only in dangerous situations. http://bloom.bg/16ePW9X

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hearing on Control of Ontario CA Airport Set for Later This Month. In one of two high-profile disputes over control of airports (Charlotte NC being the other), a Riverside County CA Superior Court judge set a hearing on Sept 25 of LA’s Motion to Dismiss, which claims that there is “no sound, legal or factual basis” the City of Ontario to reclaim control of ONT. The dispute, which has been brewing for years, centers around the fact that the number of passengers at ONT is declining rapidly, while LAX’s passengers are growing.  Ontario claims that LA, which owns ONT, has not promoted ONT and is siphoning off passengers.  Ontario filed a lawsuit on June 4, 2013, seeking to reclaim control of ONT. http://bit.ly/17U7p6j

Forget Ticket Sales, Airlines Now Make Lots of Money on Fees. According to a new report published yesterday, extra fees generated $27.1B in revenue for airlines in 2012. This is up from $22.6B in 2012. http://bit.ly/14IYm5T Although legacy carriers like United ($5.4B), Delta ($2.6B), and American ($2B) led the way in terms of total dollars, low-cost carriers counted on ancillary fees for a larger percentage of their revenues. Ancillary fees accounted for 38.5% of Spirit’s revenues, 30% of Allegiant’s and 27% of Britain’s Jet2.  One advantage for the airlines: fees are not subject to the same tax requirements as tickets. http://politi.co/14CsW6H

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Will DOT/FAA Continuing Resolution Stop Furloughs? The House came out with its Continuing Resolution yesterday, and, while not addressing the furlough issue head-on, it does seem to provide the FAA with some wiggle room http://1.usa.gov/1eeSHxT. It stipulates that the FAA may use money “for operations necessary to avoid furloughs” so long as the agency has “taken all necessary actions to reduce or defer nonpersonnel-related administrative expenses.” The CR will run through Dec 15. However, WHERE that money will come from to avoid furloughs and tower closures is another question.  As reported here last week, the FAAMA wants it to come from the Airport Improvement Program http://bit.ly/17EHvBd,  but Politico is reporting that ACI-NA and AAAE are now opposing that move.http://politi.co/18Um5Bm

Noise From New Flight Procedures Still An Issue In Queens. Even after the New York State Assembly passed legislation last year requiring the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a “Part 150” Noise Compatibility Program for LaGuardia and JFK airports, Community Board 11 (#CB11) in Northeast Queens passed a resolution that calls on NY Governor Cuomo to approve a bill requiring the PANYNJ to conduct noise studies. Residents are upset that Congress gave the FAA a pass on conducting environmental studies last year when developing new flight procedures, despite the fact that the new procedures may have significant impacts on residents. http://bit.ly/15WhhcR

Thursday, September 12, 2013

American/USAirways Merger Still In The News. DOJ filed an Amended Complaint last week, adding MI as a Plaintiff and cutting 29 routes from the list that will have allegedly high levels of concentration post-merger. http://1.usa.gov/1aEYMSS  American and USAirways filed their responses on Tuesday, claiming that the merger would increase competition and is in line with the previous airline mega-mergers to which DOJ did not object. http://bit.ly/15WRNwX And the airlines are seeking approval to delay the original Dec 17 deadline for completion of the merger. http://bit.ly/16nfaDf No surprises here.

UPDATE: Judge Sean H. Lane of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan approved American Airlines’ bankruptcy plan on Thursday but ruled that the decision was contingent on Justice Department approval of the carrier’s merger with US Airways. http://1.usa.gov/17UBbdb

LA County Recommends LAX Operators “Give Consideration” To Alternatives. LA County Planning officials – the Airport Land Use Commission – recommended Wednesday that the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) “give consideration” to alternatives to the controversial moving of the North Runway at LAX. However, the Commissioners made it clear that the recommendation does not carry consequences if not complied with. The ALUC also rejected a request to issue an order requiring LA City Council to reconsider its approval of the entire LAX package of improvements. http://lat.ms/1aF288x

Friday, September 13, 2013

Increase In In-Air Mistakes, FAA Reports.

FAA’s yearly report on air safety, issued yesterday, stated that aircraft flew too close to each other 4,394 times last year, more than double the number from the previous year.  http://1.usa.gov/1e9mY0c Of those near misses, 41 were classified as “high risk,” and 7 could have ended in a catastrophe.  FAA chalked the increase off to the use of a new electronic monitoring system now in use. The DOT IG challenged that notion in an Audit Report issued Feb 27 stating that “the increase in reported errors was linked, in part, to a rise in actual errors rather than increased reporting.” http://1.usa.gov/14RKFSp

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