FAA reauthorization sent to Trump desk

Travel industry reaction was mixed to the FAA
Reauthorization Act of 2018, a bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday and the
House last week. It now awaits President Trump’s signature. 

The bill requires the Department of Transportation to set
minimum standards for seat widths and space between rows on commercial
aircraft, despite objections from the airline industry.

Consumer travel advocate Charlie Leocha called the
requirement “a major win for airline passengers.”

ASTA applauded the bill last week for omitting previously
proposed requirements for large travel agencies (annual revenue of at least
$100 million) to disclose full fares and ancillary products at the point of
sale. ASTA CEO Zane Kerby said the requirement “would have imposed an
economic burden of close to $30 million a year on our members, ranging from
reprogramming systems to training staff to ‘talk time’ and opportunity costs
from lost sales.” 

However, airlines will still be required to disclose the
full fare (inclusive of government taxes and fees) from the beginning of a fare
inquiry. 

Tori Barnes, the U.S. Travel Association’s senior vice
president for government relations, applauded Congress for including “much-needed
reforms to TSA Precheck” but said that that the bill fell short of
addressing “our aging and inadequate airports and air travel
infrastructure, and in that regard, there is still important work to be done.”

“As a consequence, our air transportation
infrastructure is failing to keep pace with the rest of the world,” she said.

Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio said in a brief
statement that the bill “provides long-term certainty, which is critical
toward maintaining a safe and affordable travel experience for consumers in
communities across the country and throughout the world.” 

The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) said it
failed to address important airline safety issues. 

“Unfortunately, this bill has left out two important
steps to ensure system safety by not rectifying the inconsistent safety rules
on pilot fatigue and rest known as the ‘Cargo Carve-out’ and by ignoring
language that would prohibit attempts by foreign carriers to obtain ‘Flags of
Convenience’ certificates to operate in the U.S.,” stated CAPA president
Lee Collins. “We are concerned that both of these undermine U.S. airline
safety standards.”

 

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