Skip to comments.The FAA Shutdown Showdown
Posted on 08/03/2011 11:11:21 PM PDT by bobk333
Because Congress hasnt been able to agree on a long-term funding regime for the FAA, the agency has spent the last several years operating under a series of temporary funding measures. On July 20, the House passed with bipartisan support a temporary measure that would have extended FAA financing through September 16. As you might expect, this was not simply a clean funding extension, as most Democrats have been calling for. It included about $14 million in cuts to commercial airline service to rural airports. Republicans also put forward a long-term funding bill containing language that would undo a recently instituted federal labor regulation making it easier airline company employees to unionize. Democrats are unhappy with both provisions.
But because the Senate failed to act by July 23, when the most recent FAA funding extension expired, the agency has been in a partial shutdown ever since. More than 4,000 workers have been furloughed and thousands of construction projects put on hold. Dozens of airport inspectors have been asked to work without pay. Millions of dollars in uncollected airline revenue has already been lost.
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalreview.com ...
The Senate had ample opportunity to prevent this from happening, or at the very least to end the FAA shutdown by simply passing the House bill before adjourning on August 2. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) even urged his colleagues to do just that, saying sometimes you have to step back and find out whats best for the country and not be bound by some of your own personal issues. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood concurred, imploring the Senate to act. But when Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered a unanimous consent request on Tuesday to proceed to consideration of the House bill, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) objected, effectively blocking the measure, after which Reid decided to throw in the towel and adjourn for the August recess, thus allowing the shutdown to continue.
[Airline flight taxes cut.
Thousands of AFSCME (govt employees union) furloughed.
Billions in government spending delayed.
HOLD THE LINE, REPUBLICANS!]
Sounds like an easy fight, but we have a drooling Senate Minority leader and Rino Wuss as a House Majority spokesman. They couldn’t win a “what are we going to wear” on a Saturday night with a bunch of middle school cheerleaders. In fact middle school cheerleaders would make better arbitrators than these two!
As I said before, FOR THE RECORD, I am an EAS PROPONENT. Its an important tool for small community economic development.
That said, BILL CLINTON destroyed Regional Aviation in the mid-90s with his Aviation Safety Law that made flying small aircraft to these smaller cities WILDLY unprofitable.
His These new rules will only cost PENNIES per passenger to implement! cost upwards of $100+ per passenger in real life, and everybody in the Industry knew it.
Now we have a situation where NO American Aircraft Corporation builds Regional/Commuter Aircraft anymore, the ones still in the fleet are at the end of their useful life cycles, and the Regulations have made them utterly unprofitable to fly, (as Delta so clearly demonstrated last week by announcing the dropping of the SAAB fleet, and pulling out of as many as 24 small market towns, many EAS-Subsidized), and that even with a $200 max subsidy PER PASSENGER, many of these cities cant be made profitable.
As important as Air Service is to smaller remote cities, Government Regulation has made it totally unprofitable to operate without HUGE subsidies, and that has become impractical in the current environment.
-The House passes a bipartisan measure to extend FAA funding until September 20th.
-There is plenty of bipartisan support to pass it in the Senate.
-Harry Reid strongly urges senate Democrats to pass it.
-Obama’s Transportion Secretary Ray LaHood (tacitly speaking for Obama) strongly urges senate Democrats to pass it.
-Union-owned BARBARA BOXER, at the behest of the unions, BLOCKS IT!!!
-Both the House and Senate take off for summer vacations.
-Thousands of unionized FAA workers are furloughed. Thousands more union workers are sidelined with the delay of union-pork capital projects. The airlines reap a windfull in reduced taxes, maybe a billion dollars worth, which is huge compared to their market valuew.
-The mainstream media smears the Republicans, accusing *them* of letting the FAA funding lapse. They accuse them of being terrorists who “self-created” a crisis. They demand that the furloughed federal union workers continue their healthcare and other benefits, receive unemployment benefits *and* back pay when they return.
-The mainstream media is completely silent about Barbara Boxer and the unions overriding Harry Reid and Ray LaHood (speaking for Obama) to block the funding measure.
This should be interesting.
Why would taxpayers subsidize empty airports? Why subsidize an area with 3 airports within 25 miles of each other?
This is an example: I USED to live in the middle of Montana and one of the reasons I decided to sell was because I could no longer fly out without exhorbitant cost. There was a small Montana carrier with little teeny planes who would come every day. I cannot see well and no way could I drive to Billings in the winter so I was essentially tied to this airline. They went under and another line took there place. Rather than fly to Billings (125 miles on a good day) they had to fly me to Denver (540 miles any day) and the cost was even more exhorbitant, because I then had to fly from Denver after having spent hundreds of dollare to get there. I started driving and haven’t lived a Montana winter for 4 years. I could not afford to fly out of Montana anymore.
This is the ‘REAL’ reason for the holdup;
Republicans blame the Senates failure to take up the House-passed bill on the Democrats subservience to airline unions, who currently have their eyes set on Delta, the only major airline that has yet to be unionized. Delta employees have repeatedly voted against unionization. However, the National Mediation Board recently introduced a new rule stating that employee referendums on whether to unionize can be approved by a simple majority of those voting in the referendum, as opposed to the old rule requiring that a majority of all affected employees vote in favor of unionization (i.e., a non-vote counts as a vote against). House Republicans simply overturned the rule in their long-term FAA funding legislation, which has turned out to the be the real sticking point in the debate.
What was the final tally of the vote????
Thanks for that good analysis.
The rats obstructionists have the bill, the only bill they are going to get and need to vote on it as it is and approve it. Period...
1. Can an airline just pull out of an Essential Air Service airport? I thought they had to give notice, and unless the government could find a replacement, they had to keep serving that airport.
2. I think EAS is vital for places like Alaska. But in order to reduce government spending, maybe we need to look more closely at EAS airports. My airport has EAS, and the county fathers would have a coniption fit it they read what I just wrote. I heard there was an airport in Arizona that gets over $3,000 per passenger in EAS.
3. Regarding commuter aircraft, is the Beech 1900 no longer in production? The Cessna Caravan is in production, but I think for EAS you have to have two engines.
I’ll try answering as best as I can.
“1. Can an airline just pull out of an Essential Air Service airport?”
No, they can be held by the FAA until a replacement is found, unless declared “Financially Unable”. The FAA can pay a higher rate until the replacement carrier is found, too, but that is rare.
Big Sky, a carrier that used to service small communities in the Northwest, was forced in to bankruptcy by being held in place by FAA order, several years ago.
“2. I think EAS is vital for places like Alaska.”
Alaskan EAS has always been lumped in with Lower 48 EAS, and I’ve always thought that a mistake. Alaskan and Hawaiian flying being detached from lower 48 EAS is already being proposed by some Repubs. (Alaska Rep. Don Young)
“3. Regarding commuter aircraft, is the Beech 1900 no longer in production?”
No, production stopped several years ago.
Single-pilot, 9-pax Caravans (and others) are being used in EAS service, but the law says that communities are entitled to service equal to (number of seats) what they had when De-regulation took effect in 1980.
Communities have to specifically waive their right to twin-engine, 19-pax service to get these, as well.
The biggest issue for the small carriers trying to do EAS (like Cape Air, Pacific Air, AirChoiceOne, etc.) with smaller aircraft is ACCESS to the larger airports, that frankly, don’t want to be bothered by these small planes.
The second is flow through-passenger transfer agreements with the mainline carriers. And the third is the MASSIVE extra costs and inconveniences added by 9/11 security requirements.
When the inevitable ground stops due to weather and traffic begin, the FIRST aircraft the FAA stops are small aircraft from the closer airports, and the government-forced unreliability harms passenger traffic and customer service badly.
This is ALL about the FORCED UNIONIZATION of Delta Airlines. Nothing else.
That small carrier was Big Sky Airlines, and they got run out of business by Clinton’s mid-90’s “Aviation Safety” legislation, that literally DESTROYED the Regional Aviation industry in America.