November 19 - Signatory Letter To U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood


November 19, 2009

The Honorable Ray LaHood

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave. SE

Washington, DC 20590


Dear Secretary LaHood,

We the undersigned applaud your most important leadership in forming the Federal Advisory Committee on the Future of Aviation. Never has the future of U.S. commercial aviation been so threatened, or has there been so much at stake. However, the initiative risks failure if it proceeds, as many previous commissions have, in the absence of well-debated and agreed upon objectives for U.S. national transportation and air transportation policies.

You asked for suggestions regarding the top five problems facing the industry. The über problem from which virtually every other major industry difficulty subsequently flows is that the U.S. has never had a coherent national air transportation policy that has been updated over time. What’s more, one cannot select the right problems to address, or adequately evaluate solutions, unless policy objectives are set forth in a clear manner.

When initiatives such as the 1993 Baliles Commission fail to produce desired changes, some voice frustration, but fail to ask why. Recommendations are transmitted to Congress where a policy-framework to evaluate and support adoption of proposals is virtually nonexistent. What’s more, vested interests, including some represented on these commissions, work to ensure that nothing comes of recommendations.

As noted during the forum last week, 16 years after the Baliles Commission most problems facing the airline industry remain. We now run the risk of a more damaging repeat of this outcome. If in 16 years, in 2025, the destination for aviation is essentially 1993 with the same unsolved problems that Governor Baliles wrestled with, then we will have a disaster on our hands.

We deregulated 31 years ago but never had an adequate debate regarding public policy objectives and desired outcomes. Instead of a coherent air transportation policy we have a patchwork of legislative and regulatory prescriptions that are a consequence of lurching from crisis to crisis.

We need to develop public-policy objectives and a framework for effective analysis and oversight such that it does not take a tragedy outside Buffalo to recognize a flawed regional airline business model. Or, to identify that there is significant safety and security risk when U.S. aircraft are sent to third-world countries to be overhauled by workers whose backgrounds cannot be verified, who are not tested for drugs and alcohol, who rely on pictures in manufacturers’ manuals to perform repairs because they cannot read detailed English instructions and whose oversight by FAA and TSA is uneven, or non-existent.

We urge you Secretary LaHood to allocate the first 2 months of the committee’s efforts to debating and building consensus around transportation and air transportation public-policy objectives. Importantly, we recommend that the process be transparent and open to the press, as the Baliles Commission was. Let’s take advantage of the crisis gripping the airline industry to forge a future that truly strengthens U.S. travel and tourism as well as our economy, workforce, way of life and position in international aviation.

Sincerely,

American Society of Travel Agents

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Business Travel Coalition

Aerospace States Association

Consumer Travel Alliance

Travel Management Alliance

International Association of Exhibitions and Events

Association of Retail Travel Agents

Advanced Travel Partners

The Travel Team, Inc.

Austin Travel

Balboa Travel Management

Eaton Corporation

HealthCare California

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Lowe's Companies, Inc.

Sapient

Trondent Development Corp.

Zetron, Inc.

Quad City International Airport

Northern Kentucky C.V.B.

AAA Tidewater Virginia

Aladdin Travel & Meeting Planners

Aviation Innovation, LLC

Blake Associates

Caldwell Travel, Inc.

Chase & Associates

CI Travel

Clear Sky Associates

Consulting Strategies

Cresta World Travel Ltd

El Sol Travel

FLO Corporation

Fox World Travel

Geraci Travel

Global Crew Logistics

Gwins Travel

Hess Corporate Travel

HMS Travel Group

HOFT Institute

HySecurity

Indian Trails Inc.

John S. Stow Consulting, LLC

Life Therapeutics

LT Venntures, Inc.

LXR Travel LLC

Madison Emergency Physicians

MMI International

PAR Travel Tech, Inc.

Richcreek Vacation Center

Robert P. Schron Associates Ltd.

Sprayberry Travel

Sun Travel, Inc.

Sunbelt Rentals Inc

The Westin Stonebriar and Sheraton Stonebriar Hotels

Travel Management Partners

TRAVEL WITH KAL

Unlimited Travel Solutions Inc.

World Travel, Inc

Wyndham Boston Andover Hotel

Academic Travel Consulting

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