AOPA Says Pilots "Need To Set Delta Straight"
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines -- fresh off reporting the highest
load factors in the carrier's history for July -- is the latest
major carrier to appeal to its customers to support the airlines'
plan to fund the development of the FAA's NextGen air traffic
control system... by slapping general aviation with a greater
burden to fund that system.
"Within a decade, traffic delays will cost the economy $40
billion a year, and you, the customer, a great deal of wasted
time," an email sent by Delta to customers this week reads. "There
will be 85% more jets in the sky in the next 15 years -- an
increase driven largely by corporate jets, fractional jets,
air-taxis and very light jets.
"To an air traffic controller, a jet with a celebrity or a CEO
takes as much effort as a commercial flight with 250 passengers,"
the missive continues. "However, the current system is funded
almost entirely by the airline ticket tax, meaning that you are
paying for nearly 95% of the air traffic system while corporate and
private jets get a free ride!"
Delta's actions won't end there, either. The Salt Lake Tribune
reports starting September 1 -- 29 days before current funding for
the FAA is due to expire -- the carrier will play a short video on
the subject on every flight, to encourage passengers to contact
their leaders in Congress to back the plan, in a last-ditch effort
to sway legislators to the airlines' side.
It's an old song... and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association says it's grown tired and stale.
"Here's the truth: Most airline delays are due to the airlines'
own scheduling practices and weather. So says the Department of
Transportation," " AOPA responds. "General aviation flights are
less than 4 percent of the traffic at the nation's 10 busiest
airports. Air traffic control modernization (NextGen) will improve
things, but it's not a panacea. It can't make thunderstorms
disappear, nor allow two airliners to land simultaneously on the
"GA is willing to help pay for NextGen and has accepted the fuel
tax increases in the House FAA funding bill (H.R.2881) to do so,"
the pilots group adds. "The airlines demand NextGen and demand a
AOPA originally asked its members to e-mail outgoing Delta Air
Lines CEO Gerald Grinstein, but reports some e-mails bounced
back... so the organization encourages its members to instead email
Delta's customer support, to set the record straight.
Purely as a public service, ANN will gladly pass on that
address, as well...