Washington, DC—Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez joined aviation experts Wednesday to discuss Democratic efforts to make air travel saver and more efficient, and to protect consumer rights. Our nation’s economic well-being depends on our air-traffic systems being as safe and as efficient as possible, and Democrats are committed to achieving that goal for the thousands of air travelers experiencing flight delays and cancellations every week.
“With this bill, we are taking the first step toward modernizing the FAA’s air traffic control system and making the necessary investments in our aging airport infrastructure to ensure that our aviation system is the safest in the world and able to meet the needs of the flying public,” Boxer said. “We are never going to be able to anticipate every problem, but never again, if the bill becomes law, will airlines be able to hold passengers captive for hours and hours without access to clean water, food and adequate restroom facilities. Our nation’s economic stability depends on the safety and efficiency of our aviation system—this bill will help move the FAA into the 21st century.”
Said Lautenberg: “Our FAA bill is what our country needs—and would make the improvements the flying public deserves. Whether it’s endless flight delays, poor customer service or the recent disturbing reports of safety inspection failures that led to thousands of flight cancellations, airline passengers deserve better. It is clear Congress must act to restore public confidence in our aviation system and do all we can to keep travelers, flight crews and air traffic controllers safe.”
“The flying public is encountering plenty of turbulence when they travel these days – and that’s before they even get on the plane,” Menendez said. “Canceled flights, endless waits in the terminal or on the tarmac, worries about near misses on the runways or in the skies – these are all part of what the flying experience has become. The FAA isn’t adequately addressing the issues of safety and efficiency in the air traffic system, so we have to make sure they’re addressed in Congress. In these tough economic times, we must have an air traffic system that flows as safely and efficiently. We’re looking to help alleviate headaches at the airport, help keep the commercial engine of this nation running and improve fuel efficiency for struggling airlines.”
Said Senator Max Baucus: “America’s skies must be safe for every traveler. The FAA bill before the Senate will fund the latest in satellite-based air traffic control to keep our country moving safely and efficiently. From business travelers to family members visiting across the country, the NextGen system will make air travel safer and reduce delays for millions of airline passengers.”
“This bill is critically important to aviation safety because it would restore fairness to our collective bargaining system and stem the tide of controllers leaving the FAA out of anger and frustration over the FAA’s imposed work and pay rules, which have increased the stress and fatigue of the job, caused a spike in serious runway incidents and operational errors, destroyed morale and left us with a 16-year low in the ranks of experienced controllers,” said Patrick Forrey, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “Over 2,600 air traffic controllers and trainees – nearly one-fifth of the workforce – have left their jobs since the FAA’s draconian labor action on Sept. 3, 2006. We need this bill to persuade veteran controllers to stay on the job a few years longer, keep young trainees and experienced military controllers from leaving over low pay and restore trust and respect to our workplaces. Furthermore, this bill will advance the modernization of our vital infrastructure and force the FAA to again include controllers and restore collaboration.”
Said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO: “Americans cannot wait any longer for an FAA bill to address the deteriorating state of our aviation system. This legislation will ease mounting delays, make air travel safer for workers and passengers alike, modernize our aviation system and create good jobs.”