Broad Coalition Agrees on Fundamental Air Transportation Reforms

May 24 2001

May 24, 2001. The AAI participated in negotiations with a broad coalition of interests, leading to a general consensus on certain issues relating to airline transportation. While abstaining on the consumer issues, as being beyond our mission, the AAI endorsed several principles relating to competition. The press release that follows was presented to the media at a briefing in the National Press Club on May 24. AAI Advisory Board member Donald Baker and AAI President Bert Foer spoke briefly at the briefing, which was organized by the Aviation Consumer Action Project. For those desiring to urge Congress to act, a list of relevant Senators and Representatives, and their telephone numbers, follows the press release.

For More Information Contact:Kathy Lynch, Aviation Consumer Action Project202-638-4000

AIRLINE CONSUMER, BUSINESS TRAVEL, TRAVEL AGENT, AND SMALL AIRLINE ORGANIZATIONS ENDORSE AIRLINE REFORM PROPOSALS

WASHINGTON, D.C.-May 23, 2001- At a noon press conference at the National Press Club, the major national aviation consumer organizations, a business travel association, a national travel agent association, the small airline association, and Ralph Nader, endorsed a "common agenda" of airline reform proposals for Passengers Rights and Airline Competition legislation.

Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project, commented, "While over a dozen airline reform bills have been introduced in Congress this year, no bill has achieved the wide support of the 'common agenda' proposals announced today. We hope that Congress will now focus on airline reform proposals, especially those that have broad support and acceptance within airline passenger and travel industry organizations, as well as independent antitrust and consumer advocates. Few Congressional hearings have been held on airline reform legislation this year and representatives of airline passengers have generally been absent from the hearings held on airline problems."

In the area of passengers rights, the proposals are:

1) clarifying the airline deregulation law, which some courts interpret to exempt airlines from state and local consumer protection laws, so that the same laws apply to airlines as other industries, excluding those governing airfares, flight scheduling and service standards,

2) granting airline passengers right to timely, accurate, consistent, and understandable information about flight delays and cancellations, with standardized definitions and terminology,

3) increasing the compensation caps for bumped passengers to account for inflation with a future inflation adjuster (caps of $200/$400 were last increased in 1983),

4) prohibiting holding of passengers in airliners parked on the tarmac for unreasonable periods of time,

5) mandating as uniform and formal service standards, the Customer First Airline Service commitments first issued by the Air Transport Association in 1999.

Proposals for airline competition are:

1) fair access to airport facilities and takeoff and landing rights (slots) in a manner that lowers barriers to new entry,

2) all consumers, businesses and travel agents to have equal access to all public air fares made available to any third party seller,

3) study easing of restrictions on foreign investment in the domestic airline industry, and

4) requiring the US Government to formally consider the likely impact of airline mergers on future competition in the airline industry.

The organizations and individuals endorsing the "common agenda" proposals are the Air Carriers Association of America (representing small and new entrant US airlines), the Air Travelers Association (a national air traveler representation organization), the American Society of Travel Agents (representing 14,000 travel agents), the Aviation Consumer Action Project (a national air travelers rights organization founded by Ralph Nader), the International Airline Passengers Association (a membership organization of 400,000 frequent flyers worldwide), and the National Business Travel Association (representing over 1900 corporate travel departments). Also supporting the common agenda are Consumers Union, Donald Baker, former US Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, and Ralph Nader. The American Antitrust Institute also has endorsed the Competition proposals.

List of House & Senate Members-Sponsors of Current Airline Reform Bills

Rep. John Dingell    225-4077

Rep. John Sweeney    225-5614

Sen. John McCain    224-2235

Sen. Ernest Hollings    224-6121

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison    224-5922

Rep. DeFazio    225-6416

Rep. Bilirakis    225-5755

Sen. Grassley    224-3744

Rep. Oberstar    225-6211

Rep. Caroly McCarthy    225-5516

Sen. Harry Reid    224-3542

Senate -Judiciary Comm:Orrin Hatch, Chairman     224-5251Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member     224-4242

Senate-Commerce, Science & Transportation CommitteeJohn McCain, Chairman     224-2235Ernest Hollings, Ranking Member     224-6121

House - Subcommittee on AviationJohn Mica, Chairman     225-4035William Lipinski, Ranking Member     225-5701

House - Committee on Transportation and InfrastructureDon Young, Chairman     225-5765James Oberstar, Ranking Member     225-6211