House and Senate negotiators set to pass a four-year, $64 billion FAA Reauthorization bill
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Posted by: Admin
After 23 short-term extensions and five years of political impasse, House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a final version of the FAA Reauthorization bill. Key to this agreement was compromise on a controversial labor provision that would overturn a 2010 change in NMB union voting procedures. The compromise swaps the original provision, which would have overturned that rule change, for a provision raising the worker-interest threshold necessary for triggering union elections from 35 percent to 50 percent. The bill also requires a public hearing before any significant, future NMB rulings.
The bill is as significant for what it does not do as for what it does. RAA successfully worked to derail attempts to phase out the Essential Air Service program and is pleased that the bill upholds the program with certain eligibility tweaks. The bill also maintains the current PFC cap and does not impose a damaging, $100 per departure tax favored by the Administration.
The bill adds eight more long-distance slots at DCA and accelerates implementation of NextGen, forming a Chief NextGen Officer and requiring ADS-B Out avionics by 2020. The bill also codifies some of the passenger-relations provisions addressed in recent DOT rulemakings.
Under the EAS agreement, the program will be funded at approximately $190 million annually with new eligibility criteria prohibiting grants to airports within 175 miles of a hub airport with fewer than ten daily enplanements. Additionally, no new communities will be allowed to enter the program.
The House of Representatives approved the bill on Friday and the Senate has scheduled a vote for Monday evening.
RAA worked hard to protect member interests during this protracted battle and our success owes a lot to our members' and associate members' engagement and participation.