While the Air Line Pilots Association has taken an unequivocal stance against the U.S. Justice Department’s attempt to block the merger of bankrupt American Airlines parent AMR and US Airways, at least one segment of the union–namely the unit representing the pilots of American’s wholly owned regional subsidiary–sees things a bit differently.
FAA Air Traffic Organization COO David Grizzle plans to step down from his position in December, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca). “Throughout [his] tenure at the ATO, we worked together to strengthen the Natca-FAA collaborative relationship. That has resulted in many successes, from modernization to labor relations, which have helped continue to make our National Airspace System the world’s safest and most efficient,” said Natca president Paul Rinaldi. “We thank David for his contributions.”
Aviation trade group support is growing quickly for The Dependable Air Service Act, introduced yesterday by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), which would permit the FAA to transfer funds between areas in the DOT budget and thus end sequestration-related furloughs of air traffic controllers. “Even with relatively clear weather, there have been more than 5,000 flight delays over the past three days,” double the tally from a year ago, Natca said.
On Sunday the FAA began air controller furloughs that the agency said are required to comply with budgets cuts mandated under sequestration. The move has resulted in not only cascading air traffic delays but also scorn and lawsuits from aviation industry groups.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is fighting back against U.S. government cuts slated to slash funding for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, which trains pilots how to safely carry weapons aboard Part 121 aircraft.
“It is beyond belief that, at the same time the administration’s budget proposal [presented on April 10] recognizes the value of risk-based aviation security, it proposes to eliminate funding for this well established and extremely effective program,” said ALPA president Lee Moak in a statement last week.
The FAA announced today that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s plan to trim its budget by $637 million in Fiscal Year 2013 under sequestration. Two weeks ago, the FAA released a list of 238 towers potentially facing closure.
The “overriding” principle the Federal Aviation Administration is following in carrying out mandated U.S. government budget cuts is to cause “the minimal impact to the maximum number of travelers,” Administrator Michael Huerta said Wednesday.
When the U.S. Congress returns from recess on Monday, there will be just five working days to avoid across-the-board sequestration cuts, and prospects appear dim for a compromise that would avert these federal budget cuts. The general aviation community is sizing up the possible effects of sequestration on everything from the FAA’s NextGen modernization program to the contract tower program, as well as the day-to-day operation of current air traffic control services and facilities.
Pilots at Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair voted for organization under the United Transportation Union (UTU) on Thursday. Among the pilots who participated in the election, 80 percent voted in favor of the union. The pilots are now represented under UTU’s transportation division, which represents only one other pilot group–at regional airline Great Lakes Aviation. “We have assured our pilots that negotiations will be made in good faith,” Avantair said.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) has released a report outlining the effects sequestration will have on the aviation industry, as well as the U.S. economy, if Congress does not act to avert the across-the-board cuts scheduled to take effect January 1.