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Airport Report Today, November 21, 2011

April 10, 2012
Congress Approves ‘Minibus’ Appropriations Bill
Congress last week approved the “minibus” appropriations measure providing funding for DOT and FAA programs for the fiscal year (2012) that began Oct. 1. The President on Friday was expected to sign the bill into law. 
 
As previously reported, the measure targets AIP for a $165 million reduction from the $3.515 billion level approved in recent years to $3.35 billion.
 
Also of note, the “minibus” provides a temporary extension to Dec. 16 of funding for all federal agencies and departments not covered by the measure. Lawmakers will use the time between now and Dec. 16 to try and complete action on the nine remaining fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, including the annual DHS/TSA spending measure.

 
House Report Criticizes TSA
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) has released a report critical of TSA that concludes the agency “has mushroomed into a human resources bureaucracy of over 65,000 that has lost its transportation security focus.”
 
The report, prepared by the committee’s majority staff and the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that, “TSA lacks administrative competency and is made inefficient by its massive bureaucracy; TSA is failing to effectively carry out agency operations; and TSA is failing to develop and deploy effective technology.” 
 
The report makes a number of recommendations, including elevating the stature of the TSA administrator, revising the Screening Partnership Program, reducing the number of TSA administrative personnel, and developing an expedited screening program using biometric credentials.
 
TSA spokesperson Greg Soule responded to the report by saying, “At a time when our country’s aviation system is safer, stronger, and more secure than it was 10 years ago, this report is an unfortunate disservice to the dedicated men and women of TSA who are on the frontlines every day protecting the traveling public.
 
“We know from incidents such as the Christmas Day 2009 attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253, and the 2010 plot to detonate explosives in cargo on planes, that terrorists continue to target the aviation sector. In the past decade, TSA has developed a highly trained federal workforce that has safely screened over 5 billion passengers and established a multi-layered security system reaching from curb to cockpit. Every day we see the effectiveness of these security measures with TSA officers preventing more than 1,100 guns from being brought onto passenger aircraft this year alone.”   

 
Spirit Airlines Increases Aircraft Order
Spirit Airlines and Airbus said that they have entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding for 30 A320 aircraft and 45 A320neo (New Engine Option) aircraft.
 
These aircraft are in addition to the 33 aircraft not yet delivered under Spirit’s existing order and would be scheduled for delivery from 2016 through 2021. The carrier said that the new aircraft will support its targeted growth markets in the domestic U.S., Caribbean and Latin America.

 
Bidding Opens For LaGuardia, Washington Slots
Bidding by airlines for slots at New York LaGuardia and Reagan Washington National airports began Nov. 14, under terms of a DOT decision that will allow Delta and US Airways to exchange some of their slots at the two airports.

DOT in October approved a petition from the carriers under which Delta would trade 42 daily slot pairs at Washington National for 132 US Airways daily slot pairs at LaGuardia. The department placed a number of conditions on the trade, including a requirement that the carriers divest themselves of eight pairs of daily slots at Washington National and 16 pairs at LaGuardia. Only carriers operating fewer than 5 percent of the slots at LaGuardia or Washington National, either with their own aircraft or through a codesharing agreement, are eligible to bid for the divested slots at that airport.

 
Airlines Report Three Long Tarmac Delays In September
Airlines in September reported a total of three tarmac delays longer than three hours on domestic flights, DOT said.
 
All three of the reported tarmac delays involved flights departing from Washington Dulles International on Sept. 14, when there were severe thunderstorms in the area.
 
DOT also said that airline on-time performance recorded an overall arrival rate of 83.9 percent in September, down slightly from the 85.1 percent on-time rate for September 2010 but up from August 2011’s 79.3 percent rate. 

 
Increase In Holiday Travel Forecast
AAA is forecasting that 42.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a 4 percent increase from the 40.9 million people who traveled one year ago. This is the first significant increase in any holiday travel this year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.
 
Airfares are expected to be 20 percent higher than last year with an average lowest roundtrip rate of $212 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. The combination of higher fares and lower availability of seats is expected to limit air travel growth this holiday to less than half of total traveler growth, AAA said.

 
Cincinnati/No. Kentucky Buys Gate Equipment
 
JBT Corp. announced that its JBT AeroTech business subsidiary has been awarded a contract in excess of $7 million to supply gate equipment for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International.
 
The contract includes the supply of 10 refurbished passenger boarding bridges, 16 air handling units, and other site-related refurbishment work.
 
The gate equipment is part of the overall $31 million Terminal 3 Consolidation/Concourse A project intended to modernize existing facilities and position the airport for future growth.

 
Hawaiian Air To Add New York-Honolulu Flights
Hawaiian Airlines said it will launch daily nonstop service between New York’s Kennedy International and Honolulu starting June 4, 2012.
 
Hawaiian’s new flights from New York will add more than 107,000 new air seats annually to the Hawaiian market from the eastern U.S., the carrier said.

 
Agreement Reached To Extend Dulles Rail Line
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Board of Directors last week approved an agreement that will ensure continuation of the Dulles International Airport rail extension.
 
When finished, the Dulles rail extension will add 23 miles of rail line from East Falls Church, Va., to Dulles airport and on into neighboring Loudoun County.
 
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