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Airport Report Today, November 2, 2011

April 10, 2012
Senate Passes Funding Bill For DOT/FAA
The Senate on Tuesday passed H.R.2112, a $128 billion appropriations bill for a number of federal departments and agencies, including DOT and FAA, for fiscal year 2012, which began Oct. 1. The measure provides $3.515 billion in AIP funds. 
 
The bill also addresses funding levels for other airport priorities, including FAA’s use of space in airport facilities, ATC modernization and NextGen programs, Essential Air Service, the Small Community Air Service Development Program, FAA’s Contract Tower and Contract Tower cost-share programs, and FAA research and development. The funding bill does not address PFCs or other longer-term policy issues that are being considered separately as part of FAA reauthorization legislation. 
 
Differences between the House and Senate versions of the DOT/FAA funding bills and other annual appropriations measures must be reconciled and agreed to by both chambers. That process is expected to play out in the days and weeks ahead as lawmakers try to complete work on the DOT/FAA spending bill and the 11 other annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government for fiscal year 2012.  

 
Barclay On Future Of Aviation Security
AAAE President Charles Barclay, in testimony prepared for a Nov. 2 hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the future of aviation security, will argue that the federal government must target limited resources more effectively by focusing on the areas of greatest threat and resisting the urge to expand TSA’s core mission of passenger and baggage screening.
 
Barclay is scheduled to join TSA Administrator John Pistole at the hearing, along with representatives of IATA and the U.S. Travel Association.        
 
“The intense pressure on all federal budget resources, continued threats to the aviation system, and growing traffic levels at the nation’s airports make the passenger screening protocol that has been in place since 9/11 unsustainable. We simply don’t have the resources necessary to continue operating a personnel dependent screening system that treats every traveler the same regardless of the risk they pose to the system,” Barclay notes in his testimony. “The challenge for the next decade and beyond is to more effectively utilize and link technologies and information that separate and scrutinize true threats to the system from those who pose little or no risk.”
 
Airport executives and many others, Barclay notes, have long advocated the adoption of a trusted/known traveler program to better identify and scrutinize potential threats. He adds that airport executives are encouraged by TSA’s plan to develop PreCheck, a limited, voluntary passenger pre-screening initiative with a small trusted/known traveler population at four airports.
 
“Administrator Pistole and his team deserve immense credit for moving forward with the program and with other risk-based initiatives,” Barclay’s testimony states. “Airport executives anticipate great success with the PreCheck program and recognize that the next challenge will be moving from a largely airline-centric program in operation at a handful of airports to one that is operational for large numbers of travelers at airport facilities across the country.”
 
Barclay notes that AAAE has established a Security Task Force that is actively involved in discussions with the agency to move in that direction. He adds that the group also is working collaboratively with TSA to address issues related to checkpoint configuration, queue management, modified LEO response expectations and public communication.
 
Barclay’s testimony also highlights the important role that airports play as public entities in performing a number of inherently local security functions: incident response and management, perimeter security, employee vetting and credentialing, access control, infrastructure and operations planning, and a myriad of local law enforcement functions. “These important duties have long been local responsibilities that have been performed by local authorities in accordance with federal standards and subject to federal oversight,” Barclay notes.  
 
“Airport operators meet their security-related obligations with a sharp focus on the need to protect public safety, which remains one of their fundamental missions,” Barclay’s testimony states. “The professionals who perform these duties at airports are highly trained and have the first responder authorities and responsibilities that we all value immensely. From a security and resource perspective, it is critical that these inherently local functions remain local with federal oversight and backed by federal resources when appropriate.”
 
Barclay urges TSA to focus on its primary mission of passenger and baggage screening, stating, “Expanding the agency’s mission — particularly to areas already in capable local hands — threatens to dilute already scarce resources.”

 
Global Passenger Traffic Improves In September
Global airline passenger traffic in September rose 5.6 percent over September 2010, while air freight declined by 2.7 percent for the month, according to figures released this week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
 
In international markets, North American carriers recorded a 1.2 percent increase in traffic, the weakest among the world’s regions, IATA said.
 
“September’s strength in passenger demand was a pleasant surprise,” commented Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Freight demand contracted for a fifth consecutive month and this trend is in line with falling business and consumer confidence. We are still expecting a general weakening in passenger traffic as we head toward the year-end.” He noted that IATA is expecting profitability to decline from $6.9 billion in 2011 to $4.9 billion in 2012.

 
GAO Calls For Changes In Foreign Airport Assessments
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issue a report concluding that, while TSA has taken steps to enhance its foreign airport assessments, “Opportunities exist to strengthen the program.”
 
GAO said it reviewed foreign airport assessment procedures and results, interviewed TSA and foreign aviation security officials, and observed TSA conduct a foreign airport assessment. As a result, the agency said that although some foreign airports complied with all of TSA’s aviation security assessment standards, “serious noncompliance issues” remain at a number of foreign airports. Common areas of noncompliance included weaknesses in airport access controls and passenger and baggage screening, according to GAO.
 
Moreover, GAO said its analysis demonstrated variations in airport compliance across geographic regions, among other things. However, TSA has not yet taken steps to evaluate its assessment results to identify regional and other trends over time, GAO said. “Developing a mechanism to evaluate its assessment results could help support TSA’s priorities for aviation security training and technical assistance, inform its risk management decision-making by identifying any trends and security gaps, and target capacity building efforts,” the agency said.  
 
The report may be viewed at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d12163.pdf

 
Chicago Unveils New Sustainability Initiatives
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has announced new sustainability initiatives at O’Hare International that include the development of a large solar panel project, as well as an alternative fueling station for private and commercial vehicles. The CDA also said it will launch a composting program for some restaurants operating at Midway International.

 
Wayne County Airport Authority Terminates CEO
The Wayne County (Mich.) Airport Authority (WCAA) announced on Monday that it has terminated the employment of CEO Turkia Mullin.
 
WCAA said, “This action was taken after consultation with airport authority counsel and after considering the information available to the board. The board will not discuss any further matters about her contract, which our legal counsel will address with her privately.”
 
Thomas Naughton, WCAA senior vice president and CFO, has been named to serve as the WCAA interim CEO.

 
US Airways Adds U.S.-Based Call Center Jobs
US Airways announced Tuesday that it has returned work previously handled outside of the U.S. to its call centers in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Phoenix; and Reno, Nev., a move that adds 400 jobs to the U.S.-based centers.
 
The airline said its onshore project is part of its agreement with the Airline Customer Service Employee Association-CWA and IBT, which represents more than 6,000 reservations and airport customer service employees employed by US Airways. The new positions meet a contractual requirement to handle all general reservations sales calls originating in the U.S. in U.S. call centers by Nov. 1, 2011.

 
Alaska Air To Add Honolulu Routes
Alaska Airlines said it would institute daily nonstop service between Honolulu and Oakland, Calif., and Honolulu and San Jose, Calif., marking the latest in a series of new Hawaii routes introduced by the carrier this year. The service begins April 10, 2012.

 
Hernando County Airport Joins USCTA
Hernando County (Fla.) Airport is the newest member of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA). For information about USCTA, contact Spencer Dickerson atsdickerson@aaae.org
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