May 26, 2009
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye; Sen. Thad Cochran; Sen. Robert C. Byrd; Sen. George Voinovich;Sen. Patty Murray;Sen. Christopher Bond; Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IV;Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; Sen. Byron L. Dorgan; Sen. Jim DeMint; Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman;Sen. Susan M. Collins; Rep.James L. Oberstar;Rep. John L. Mica;Rep. Jerry F. Costello;Rep. Thomas Petri; Rep. David R. Obey;Rep. Jerry Lewis;Rep. David E. Price; Rep. Harold Rogers;Rep.John W. Olver; Rep. Tom Latham;Rep. Bennie G. Thompson; Rep. Peter T. King;Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee; Rep. Charles W. Dent
Dear Members of Congress:
We the undersigned represent the interests of millions of business travelers who utilize the U.S. aviation system each day; we write to you subsequent to recent NTSB hearings regarding the Colgan Air crash. Weurge you to conduct hearings in the larger context of formulation of a national air transportation policythat appropriately articulates public policy expectations regarding optimizing safety and minimizing cost in our aviation system and that provides an opportunity for the creation of a financially viable airline industry.
The U.S. deregulated the airline industry in 1978 but in the aftermath of the intense Congressional debates about deregulation itself, has never had an inclusive, thoughtful public-policy debate about what ought to be the priorities of national policy with respect to air transportation. As a consequence, Congressional involvement in aviation policy has been somewhat limited to lurching from one crisis to the next, sometimes adding to a patchwork of disconnected policy prescriptions which fall far short of coherent aviation policy.
Following the tragic crash at Buffalo, travelers, travel agents and corporate travel managers were taken aback by news reports that itemized much larger differences in pilot compensation and experience between regional and major airlines than most observers were aware of. Taken in conjunction with revelations regarding pilot training, fatiguing commutes and other safety-related items that arose during the NTSB hearings, and in subsequent press accounts, these facts have left many in both the public and Congress concerned about the regional airline business model.
Very importantly, no matter the area of aviation – crew training & experience – aircraft maintenance – air traffic control – travelers should accept nothing less than a single and high regulatory standard and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) willing to do its enforcement job.
We believe that the public has the right to expect that whether the aircraft is a Dash 8 approaching Buffalo in icy conditions or an Airbus 320 without power over the Hudson, it will be operated by reasonably paid, carefully trained, fully experienced and career-oriented pilots with the necessary resources of experience and intellect to make full use of the sophisticated technologies available to them.
Hourly wages for a regional pilot start at $12.50 per hour, according to Avjobs.com. The co-pilot of the Colgan Air regional aircraft that crashed in Buffalo made $23 an hour, according to reports. That compares with an average hourly wage for New York City cab drivers of $17, and $20 for Atlanta bus drivers. However, these cab and bus drivers are not commuting across multiple time zonesonly to land from a “red eye” flight and operate their vehicles.
We urge Congress to initiate the long-overdue process of developing a coherent national air transportation policy that ensures the safety and security of the flying public and protects and strengthens this national infrastructure so vital to our economy and way of life.
International Airline Passengers Association
Association of Corporate Travel Executives
Association of Professional Flight Attendants
Business Travel Coalition
Consumer Travel Alliance
Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition
Travel Management Alliance
Teamsters Airline Division
Teamsters Local Union 747
Teamsters Local Union 961
Allied Pilots Association
Air Transport Division - TWU of America AFL – CIO
Bonaire Hotel & Tourism Association
SeaWorld San Diego
SAS Autosystemtechnik Verwaltungs GmbH
Tween Brands, Inc.
Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc
Sterling Jewelers Inc.
AAA Corporate Travel Services
The Travel Team, Inc.
Omega World Travel
The University of Texas at Austin
Global Hospitality Advisors, LLC
Lowe's Companies, Inc.
Inter IKEA Group
Liberty Global Europe
Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
MAG Industrial Automation Systems
Academic Travel Consulting
The Crump Group
ADTRAV Travel Management
ACCESS Destination Services
All Seasons Travel
Ashford Suites Hotel
Buon Viaggio Travel
Cereal Chillers Inc
CONCENTRA Conference Management Services
Eton Travel Agency Ltd
LXR Travel LLC
Metro Travel & tours, Inc.
Robert P. Schron Associates Ltd.
Teplis Travel Service
The Expedition Development Company, Inc.
The Travel Authority
Watlow Electric Manufacturing Company
Mendelsohn & Associates
A Plus Travel Corp.
Best Travel, Inc.
AvCon World Ltd.