The Alliance strikes back

May 30, 2007

The Alliance strikes back

Click to watch commercial
Watch the Alliance
for Aviation Across
America commercial.
Alerting the media

The Alliance is also making sure the news media know about the deceptions in the airlines' TV commercial.

It sent out a press release with a line-by-line "truth check," countering every airline statement with the truth, backed up by cold, hard, documented facts.

Also included were statements from former Department of Transportation Inspector General Ken Mead and National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Patrick Forrey disputing the airlines' claims.

"Corporate traffic is not the reason for system delays," said Forrey, "and the ridiculous assertion that private aircraft get priority treatment is absolutely false."

Said Mead, "As they have in the past, the airlines attempt to blame others for their own flight delays. Frankly, I found the airlines' new ad disappointing and quite misleading."

Mead noted that when he was the DOT's inspector general, his office had reported to Congress numerous times on airline customer service and the worsening problem of airline flight delays. "The fact is, the airlines created the hub-and-spoke system; it is the airlines who now use that same system to schedule an impossibly large number of flights to arrive and depart from the same place at roughly the same times of day - much more than the system can handle all at once."

Forrey confirmed Mead's assessment. "Severe weather accounts for over 70 percent of delays, which are exacerbated by the hub-and-spoke operation, and the rest is either airline staffing woes, air traffic controller staffing shortages, or the airlines' own operations," said Forrey.

The user fee fight is getting dirty, apparently. The airlines' trade organization, the Air Transport Association, has started running ads on CNN's Airport Network claiming that airline delays are caused by general aviation aircraft.

The expensive, slickly animated commercial wrongly claims that "hot shot there is clogging up the skies," as a business jet jumps to the front of the line of airliners waiting to depart.

Right. Like that really happens.

The Alliance for Aviation Across America, the coalition of general aviation groups, local airports, economic development organizations, and rural groups, is fighting back against the distortions and half-truths in the airline propaganda.

The Alliance (of which AOPA is a key board member) is airing its own TV commercial to set the facts straight, to tell the general public the real truth about flight delays.

"At the nation's busiest airports, small airplanes make up less than four percent of the traffic," the Alliance ad states, "and Department of Transportation studies show that almost all delays are caused by weather and the airlines themselves."

The ad points out that the airlines are trying for yet another tax break.

The Alliance ads started appearing Tuesday on CNN's Airport Network, the same channel on which the airlines are airing their misleading commercial. (CNN's Airport Channel is only seen in airport terminal waiting areas.)

"I'm disappointed that the airlines have resorted to outright lies, misrepresentation and distortion," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We had hoped we could maintain an honest debate on the facts.

"Rest assured, AOPA, the Alliance for Aviation Across America, and all of the general aviation organizations will use every available resource to make sure that Congress and the American public understand the truth of how our aviation system works," said Boyer.

[View the airlines' commercial here.]

May 30, 2007