Frankly... We Were Shocked, Too
It was a speech the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
On Tuesday, outgoing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey (shown
above at AirVenture 2007) took the nation's airlines to task
over this summer's record number of flight delays and
cancellations... saying if the airline industry doesn't take
meaningful measures to improve its performance, the government will
step in and do it for them.
"Passengers are growing weary of schedules that aren't worth the
electrons they're printed on," Blakey told a group of aviation
executives at the Aero Club in Washington, DC. "Airline schedules
have got to stop being the fodder for late-night monologues. And if
the airlines don't address this voluntarily, don't be surprised
when the government steps in."
The tone of Blakey's speech was a marked departure from the
Adminstrator's past sympathetic -- some would say chummy --
tone towards the nation's airlines.
A spokesman with the Air Transport Association, trade group for
most of the nation's airlines, sounded a bit miffed about it,
"No carrier is going to
be willing to reduce its schedule unless we see that industry
addresses all of the causes of delay," ATA spokesman David
Castelveter told The Associated Press.
As ANN reported, airlines
posted their worst on-time performances ever through July of this
year, at least out of the 12 years the Department of Transportation
has kept such statistics.
Blakey cited increasing congestion over the East Coast as a
prime example of what happens when airlines over-schedule, and
The Administrator -- who leaves the FAA Thursday, and will take
a position as president of the Aerospace Industries Association in
November -- didn't do a complete about-face from earlier
positions espousing user fees for general aviation... especially
"Flying to and from wherever you want whenever you want is not a
free utility," she said. "You need to expect to pay for it."
Those statements were music to the ears of the ATA's
"The guys who fly
around in private jets" make up about 40 percent of the air traffic
in the Northeast, he told the AP. "One would think it's not just
airlines that would be asked to reduce capacity."
AOPA replies the government's own data show weather and
scheduling are the major causes of delays -- not the skies being
thick with bizjets, as the airlines continually assert. The pilot
advocacy group notes at the airports with the highest delays,
general aviation accounts for a small percentage of the
"It's great to see the Administrator sharing these facts," said
AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The capacity problem has to do with
runways, and airline scheduling is a major factor."