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AOPA speaks out against FAA congestion pricingAOPA speaks out against FAA congestion pricing

AOPA speaks out against FAA congestion pricing

By AOPA ePublishing staff

In its formal comments filed on the FAA’s plan to reduce airline delays via congestion pricing, AOPA said the agency is jumping too far too soon with its plan.

“Congestion pricing should be the FAA’s last resort, not its first,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer. “The agency’s proposal does nothing to improve the National Air Transportation system and could in fact hurt general aviation’s access to airports.”

In its comments and in previous communications with the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, AOPA offered specific suggestions for ways to reduce delays.

Some of those suggestions are:

  • Aligning schedules with capacity benchmarks;
  • Implementing changes in air traffic control procedures;
  • Educating the traveling public;
  • Ensuring adequate air traffic control staffing;
  • Adding more runways to existing airports; and
  • Mandating key technologies for landing at congested airports.

Although delays ripple through the system, they are generally caused by problems at specific airports. The MITRE Corp., which does research and development work for the FAA, determined that seven air carrier airports alone are responsible for 72 percent of delays in the system. General aviation accounts for only 2.1 percent of the traffic at those seven airports.

An aviation rulemaking committee established by the Department of Transportation to develop ways to reduce congestion in the New York City area did not endorse congestion pricing and made clear in its report that the concept was opposed by the majority of the aviation community.

“The possibility that this policy could expand to reliever and other general aviation airports is alarming,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “Airports that don’t even have airline service may see DOT’s new emphasis on congestion pricing as a green light to start charging our members more to use their facilities, even though such tactics at those airports would have absolutely no effect on system-wide delays.”

Discouraging or limiting general aviation access to airports is an unsatisfactory management strategy. AOPA believes the DOT should scrap plans for congestion pricing, and pursue alternative solutions that have been offered by the aviation rulemaking committee and others in the aviation industry.

April 8, 2008

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