U.S. airlines and small-jet owners have joined forces to lobby for $4 billion in economic-stimulus aid, setting aside a two-year dispute over air-traffic control costs.
Nine Washington-area trade groups representing carriers, plane users such as PepsiCo Inc., and manufacturers including Boeing Co. are seeking aid to advance the government’s so-called Next Generation overhaul of air-traffic control technology. They say they want to ensure lawmakers don’t overlook aviation in the $775 billion stimulus plan proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.
“There’s recognition amongst all of us that the only way we’re going to move NextGen is if we’re united,” said Sharon Pinkerton, vice president for government affairs at the Air Transport Association, in an interview.
Those groups include the Air Transport Association, Regional Airline Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Aerospace Industries Association, National Business Aviation Association, Cargo Airline Association, Nationa Air Carriers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
In speaking about a possible stimulus package last week, American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey told reporters he felt his industry should benefit. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“I would like to think that the airline industry would merit a great deal of attention,” [Arpey] said. Airlines, rocked by skyrocketing fuel costs through the summer, were subsequently faced with an economic slowdown that has curtailed demand.
“We seem to have experienced an almost seamless transition in which our fuel cost crisis has been replaced by a potential air travel demand crisis,” Arpey told reporters.