ICYMI: A4A National Media Call on the Need for Modernization and Reform of Nation’s Air Traffic Control

Airline CEOs Call for Reforms that will Reduce Air Travel Delays, Bolster America’s First-rate Aviation Safety Record

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2015 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today released the following excerpts from a recent national media call in which six major passenger and cargo airline CEOs discussed the need for transformational Air Traffic Control reform.

Nicholas E. Calio
President and CEO of Airlines for America

“Now is the time … to come together on fundamental reform of our air traffic control system.”

“Right now our system relies on World War II technology that keeps planes from flying as directly and efficiently as possible.  If you have GPS in your car… you’re using a more modern system than the ones that we use to fly our airplanes. That is a ridiculous place to be.  We can’t afford to rely on an outdated system like that that’s hampered by a governing and funding structure at the FAA that inhibits innovation and the swift option of modern technology.  It’s … costing passengers and airlines about $30 billion a year in delays and cancellations.”

Doug Parker
Chairman of Airlines for America and CEO of American Airlines

“A transformational change in the system would allow a layer of certainty that doesn’t exist today.”

“We are seeking a transformational change to the way that U.S. air traffic control system is financed and governed. We are in favor of an ATC system with stable and predictable funding outside the federal budget and a system to give stakeholders a much greater voice in setting their priority.  The model we’re advocating for is not privatization.  We are opposed to privatization. What we’re talking about is an independent, not-for -profit governance structure that would be accountable to all sectors of aviation.”

“Separating air traffic control from the FAA would lead to a much more efficient and effective airline operation because an independent ATC organization would operate with long-term funding and governance certainty.  The leader of the organization would be incentivized to pursue efficiencies without the constraints imposed on government agencies that hamper their ability to operate nimbly and effectively.”

Brad Tilden
Chairman, President and CEO of Alaska Air Group

“The big advantage here of air traffic control reform is putting this into a structure where we will move quicker and get all of these benefits to our customers and to our community.”

“I wanted to offer the perspective on this from an airline that is using this [NextGen] technology … and that approach saves us, on average, 87 gallons of fuel, 1900 pounds of carbon emissions and nine minutes of time.  We do this 73 times a day out of roughly 1000 flights.”

“The big advantage here of air traffic control reform is putting this into a structure where we will move quicker and get all of these benefits to our customers and to our community.”

Robin Hayes
President and CEO of JetBlue Airways Corp.

“We have the safest skies in the world but this model can help us be more efficient and enhance safety even further with the right long-term technological investment.”

“For New Yorkers, adoption of a similar system would mean much greater certainty applied on delayed or cancelled [flights] because of government shutdowns or failure in Washington to fund the FAA.”

“We have the safest skies in the world but this model can help us be more efficient and enhance safety even further with the right long-term technological investment.  It also allows us to invest in more backup systems to prevent the kind of disruptions that are occurring more and more when the current technology fails.  And because of the importance of New York and the U.S. market, I want to add that smoother operations in New York inevitably means smooth operation for the whole country just because so much of the traffic comes in and out of New York.”

Bill Flynn
President and CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.

“Even Saudi Arabia has a more efficient air traffic control system that we experience daily on our flights in and out.”

“I think having Atlas Air come in on today’s call is important because many of us today on the call have very different business models because there are very different business markets but we’re all unified in our support and really our call to modernize the air traffic control system and to do it now.”

“Last year we flew in and out of 129 countries, and I think that breadth of experience gives us some perspective on what can be achieved in air traffic control systems around the world and what the benefits of those modernized efficient systems are and what they might mean for us here in the United States and the benefit for our economy.  Even Saudi Arabia has a more efficient air traffic control system that we experience daily on our flights in and out.  So from our perspective, we believe the time is now.  If we don’t make the changes, if we don’t move to a not-for-profit government structure for the air traffic control, we may find ourselves still 10 years from now talking about what we might have done or could have done and all that time and all that energy and money will be lost.”

Gary Kelly
Chairman, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines Co.

“There’s a tremendous cost burden that exists today supporting old technology. And that doesn’t even include the horrible inefficiencies that result from using outdated technology.”

“We’re not talking about taking away what is a fundamental government function, which is regulating the industry and overseeing the safety.  So that would remain in the FAA. We’re talking about the air traffic operations.  It really in fact with the current organization puts an additional burden on the very hardworking people of the FAA.  It just makes what is already a difficult job all that much harder.  It also does not lend itself to managing large, long-lived capital projects.  And that is much better done with a federally chartered, not-for-profit organization and that is the key to achieving air traffic control modernization.”

Dave Bronczek
President and CEO FedEx Express

“The consumers at the end of the day will win.”

“They’ll win in a big way and that’s really what we’re all here for, whether it’s shipping a package or you’re a passenger.  The fuel reduction, the carbon emissions reductions, the service improvements.  So when you think about the system that we have today and where we could be and where we should be in the future, there’s no question in our minds at FedEx that [the air traffic control system] needs to be modernized.”

– END –

Note: Quotes were pulled from a rush transcript and may be updated

ABOUT A4A

Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. Airlines for America (A4A) vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global competitiveness.

A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups, Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.

For more information about the airline industry, visit our website airlines.org and our blog, A Better Flight Plan, at airlines.org/blog.
Follow us on Twitter: @airlinesdotorg.
Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/AirlinesforAmerica.
Join us on Instagram: instagram.com/AirlinesforAmerica.

MEDIA CONTACTS

See Media Contacts

LATEST TWEETS