Monday, August 11, 2008

To the Highest Bidder

I am sure it will surprise you to know that there is a scheme a foot to auction off the runway take off and landing spots at high traffic airports like JFK in New York. And of course it will surprise you even more to know that George Bush and Co. are behind the new plan.

Apparently this new competitive runway plan has to do with busy flight schedules but even more it has to do with having not enough air traffic control staff.

The Bush administration’s decision to impose caps on flights at the three major airports in the New York area, and its plans to auction landing slots at the three airports in a first-of-its-kind experiment to handle congestion, are the subject of intense debate at a House subcommittee hearing in Washington.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who has been a persistent critic of the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, excoriated both agencies on Wednesday morning, saying the Bush administration had resorted to “ideological, market-based theory,” while doing little to fill vacancies among air-traffic controllers.

“Instead of focusing on real, tested solutions to solve this problem, like upgrading decades-old technology and hiring an adequate number of controllers to staff New York’s towers, the D.O.T. continues to miss the point,” Mr. Schumer said. “To make matters worse, the F.A.A.’s treatment of controllers has lead to an unprecedented rash of retirements thus compounding the problem.”

At many air-traffic control towers across the country, more than one-third of the staff consists of trainees, Mr. Schumer said. Developmental trainees comprised 25 percent of all controllers nationally as of December 2007, up from about 15 percent in 2004, he said.
Ok, so far my airline/ airport reading and writing have turned up-- unsafe fueling practices, bad FAA leadership, and moves to privatize/ profit-ize critical airport systems as well as a lack of trained and skilled staff. This is in addition to new bag charges, water charges, seat charges and extra fuel charges. I think we are looking at some major impending crashes here. (pun intended)