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News & Press: Press Releases

ATC Reform Proposal is Double Jeopardy for Small and Medium-Sized Community Air Service

Tuesday, June 27, 2017  

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WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 – The Regional Airline Association (RAA) weighed in today on the current proposal to reform ATC as part of legislation in the House of Representatives reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Regional airlines operate 44 percent of our nation’s scheduled commercial airline departures, typically in partnership with major airlines. Regional airlines provide air service to communities of all sizes and, importantly, provide service to hundreds of communities that cannot be economically served by larger airlines or larger aircraft. In fact, two-thirds of the nation’s airports rely on regional airlines exclusively for their link to the nation’s commercial air transportation network. This access is an economic lifeline for smaller communities, but has a broader, national impact – regional airline service at small communities alone drove over $121 Billion dollars in economic activity and supported more than one million jobs in 2015* 

With these facts in mind, and after careful evaluation, RAA cannot support the current House package on ATC reform offered by Chairman Bill Shuster, (R-PA). RAA agrees in principal that considerable efficiencies could be gained through meaningful ATC reform. However, we have significant concerns this proposal lacks safeguards against cost increases on regional airline flights to small and medium-sized communities. These cost increases occur on routes that are already losing air service as a result of a severe and worsening pilot shortage. The pilot shortage has already raised the cost of providing small community air service generally. “Presently, the House proposal fails to protect against tax increases on the nation’s most vulnerable air service markets,” stated RAA President Faye Malarkey Black. “Communities at highest risk have already been impacted by the growing pilot shortage – making this an unacceptable double-whammy for passengers traveling from small and medium sized communities, who have the same right to reasonably priced access to the airspace as passengers traveling within denser, urban markets.” 

While RAA appreciates the Chairman’s desire to update the ATC system, and agrees that valuable efficiencies may be gained through real reform of our ATC system and funding, these reforms must be balanced with access needs of travelers to and from our nation’s smaller airports. We hope to work with Chairman Shuster and Members of the Committee to address these issues in an attempt improve the legislation.

* Intervistas, January 2017. “Economic Impact of Small Community Airports and the Potential Threat to the Economies with the Loss of Air Service”

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