Archive: September, 2011
Boeing's 787 Dreamnliner jet is finally about to carry some paying passengers. The new airliner's hull is made of composite materials that brings plastic to mind to many people. Read about the advantages and technological hurdles the airplane, like all inventions, is expected to face in this article.
Pan Am the TV show is not getting rave reviews but, as TV critic Jon Storm notes, its best feature is a trip down memory lane for those who enjoyed flying -- because it really could be glamorous and they could afford it -- in the '50s and '60s. My first overseas flight was to Europe on Pan Am at age 20, and I do recall some striking, shall we say, onboard employees. Here's a USA Today piece about that era and the show.
The debate over Obama administration proposals to make airline customers pay a larger share of air-travel security costs is raging, with articles popping up daily. Here's a good explainer in today's New York Times. Yesterday we found a good editorial about the issue in the trade paper Travel Weekly that sort of says it alll ... Tax somebody else!
Given the partisan divide in Congress, little progress is being made in the effort to adopt new technology at the FAA to upgrade the air-traffic control system. Now an idea for improving the system -- one that has come and gone in debates in the past -- using a private-sector nonprofit company, needs to be given serious consideration again, according to a former Obama administration official who's now an investment banker. Read more about Peter Orzag's ideas at this link.
Three airlines, all generally regarded as discounters, were rebuffed by a Washington federal appeals court in their effort to keep regulators from adopting new rules protecting consumers when they buy tickets. Among the rules is one requiring disclosure of all fees and taxes in advertising ticket prices. Now, the airlines can detail the fees and taxes "nearby," which usually means in small type and in a footnote. Read a little more about what the appeals court told the airlines.
The airline industry's main trade group, the Air Transport Association, takes a generally dim view these days of much of what the Obama administration proposes. Currently the association is fairly heavy up with former GW Bush administration veterans, so it's no big surprise that any idea the current White House proposes, like an increase in fees to cover the cost of security, might face ATA opposition. The group as a rule objects to all taxes and fees on aviation, contending that their business is the sort of national economic treasure that all taxpayers should help pay for. Hmmm ... what do you think of that idea?
General aviation groups don't like another administration proposal: a $100 per flight fee that would be paid by operators of all aircraft, large and small, commercial and private, to help defray costs of the air-traffic control system. Read more about the proposals from the administration and what the industry says here.
In the meantime, here's a report on how the worldwide airline industry is performing financially this year. In summary, it's doing just fine.
If you did not see Linda Loyd's comprehensive story in The Inquirer yesterday about air-traffic control in the Philladelphia region, including a look at an increase in operational errors by controllers at PHL in a recent 12-month period compared with the year before, you can find it here.
A Republican senator from Oklahoma is holding up approval of a House-passed bill that extends funding for the FAA until early next year, after what looked like another temporary settlement of the dispute that shut down some of the agency's work, and gave airlines a revenue windfall, last month. Read more about the squabling here.