By FlyersRights.org, Special for USDR
As the Trump Administration seeks to recover from the President’s first travel order and the Congress begins work on a host of air travel initiatives, the airline industry and passenger groups are seeking to have long stalled reforms and initiatives given new life, reported FlyersRights.org.
FlyersRights.org president and longstanding member of FAA/TSA advisory committees, Paul Hudson observed, “President Trump spoke of building new airports and railways in his inaugural address. Then at a meeting with airline executives on February 9thindicated his opposition to reversing approval of major expansion of low fare Norwegian Air International as urged by airline unions and most big US airlines, citing new US jobs that would be created by Boeing and others.”
“Now it is the time for President Trump to meet with air travelers, who through their airfares, taxes and fees pay for the air transportation system, but have been ignored by policy makers, including recent past Presidents.”
The last time Congress undertook a comprehensive review of airline regulation was in 1978 during the Carter Administration. It enacted the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, over the objections of the large airlines, to improve service, consumer choice and lower airfares through competition. It abolished regulation of prices, schedules and service standards, and prohibited all regulation of airlines except through the DOT and FAA.
Airfares did decline until 2010, but now air travel prices have increased, and domestic airline service by all measures has been seriously degraded. Four large airlines created through mergers (American, Delta, Southwest and United) now control over 80% of domestic flights, and three joint ventures, most with antitrust waivers, control two thirds of international flights. As a result, US airfares are higher than in most of the world, planes are full and the number flights have declined, especially to smaller and medium size cities.
Air travel is now slower and less reliable by most measures than prior to deregulation with 20-30% of flights late or canceled. No US major airports have been constructed since 1980.
In recent meetings with House Aviation Subcommittee, FlyersRights.org emphasized its support for –
-pro airline competition measures, including repeal of laws and policies that inhibiting competition,
-construction of new airports for the New York City and Chicago areas to relieve congestion delays,
-correction of court decisions exempting airlines from all state, local and most federal consumer protection laws, plus most tort laws, laws that apply to all other industries,
-improvements in airport security, and
-its opposition to privatization of air traffic control and aviation security.
FlyersRights.org is the largest airline passenger organization with over 60,000 members. It is best known as the principal advocate for the 3 Hour Rule enacted in 2010 that eliminated the practice of long tarmac confinements (up to 12 hours) for the commercial convenience of airlines that was affecting 150,000 to 250,000 passengers per year.
It is active in DOT/FAA rulemaking, and provides information and expertise resources to the public, the FAA and DOT, Congress and other public policy organizations. In 2016, it filed an appeal of the FAA refusal to halt or regulate seat size and legroom shrinkage, now pending oral argument on March 10th before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (Flyers Rights Education Fund v FAA). It filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court (Schoenebeck v KLM ) in support of reversing a 9th Circuit decision refusing to recognize filing a lawsuit in another nation as meeting the 2 year statute of limitations unless a case is also filed in the US; the Montreal Convention governs all passenger and shipper claims against airlines in international air travel.
In 2015, FlyersRights.org filed an amicus brief (MacLean v Dept. Homeland Security) in support of the Whistle Blower Protection statute applying to the Dept. of Homeland Security with which the Supreme Court agreed.
Currently pending before the DOT are FlyersRights.org rulemaking petitions dealing with exorbitant change and cancelation fees on international flights, reinstatement of the reciprocity rule to reduce unnecessary passenger delays due to flight cancelations, informing passengers of their delay compensation rights in plain language under the Montreal Convention, EU rules, and the US bumping rule.
FlyersRights.org publishes a weekly online newsletter for airline passengers available at www.flyersrights.org, operates a toll free hotline for airline passengers 877-FLYERS6 and maintains a staffed office at 1440 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20005.