NACA congratulates FAA Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami on his retirement

In light of the announcement that FAA Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami will be retiring June 30, 2021, NACA President and CEO George Novak issued the following statement:

“NACA congratulates FAA Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami on his retirement from the agency. Ali’s leadership, dedication, and collaborative work throughout his distinguished public and private sector career have helped to advance the safety of global civil aviation by validating new commercial aircraft systems and promoting international cooperation on aviation safety issues. More than half a billion passengers fly safely in the United States every year through the efforts of Ali and his team. As a result of the bold and dynamic initiatives he championed as the nation’s top aviation safety official, the United States will continue to set the gold standard for aviation safety across the globe. We are grateful for his public service and wish him all the best in his retirement.”

NACA promotes summer travel with DHS/TSA

NACA President and CEO George Novak participated in a press conference to promote summer travel organized by the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on May 25.

“To the traveling public … welcome back … it has felt like a long time coming,” Novak said. “As we have during the pandemic, we’re continuing our work to ensure the safest and most secure travel experience possible in close consultation with our partners at the CDC, TSA, DHS, and FAA.”

Novak also highlighted the significant uptick in disruptive passengers onboard aircraft and issued a stern warning regarding the FAA’s policy:

The FAA and the industry have instituted a “zero-tolerance” policy in prosecuting any individual that does not follow flight crew instructions or becomes physically abusive. We support the FAA 100% in this effort. Our flight crews are there for the safety and security of everyone on the aircraft. They are protecting you, your families and your fellow passengers. We must all show them the proper respect and understanding as we resume traveling.

Read the full text of Novak’s remarks as prepared for delivery here.

Read TSA’s Press Release here.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator
  • Nick Calio, Airlines for America
  • Kevin Burke, Airports Council International – North America
  • Joel Bacon, American Association of Airport Executives
  • George Novak, National Air Carrier Association
  • Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association

Left to right: Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator; Nick Calio, Airlines for America; Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Kevin Burke, Airports Council International – North America; George Novak, National Air Carrier Association; Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association; and Joel Bacon, American Association of Airport Executives

NACA Supports Making Green Aviation Greener

Today NACA joined a coalition of aviation and manufacturing associations to urge congressional leaders to pass a wide range of legislative initiatives helping an already green aviation industry become even greener. The proposals focus on four key areas:

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel development, production and distribution
  • Low/no emission technologies deployment
  • Aviation environmental research and development
  • Air traffic management modernization

NACA’s member carriers are driven to be highly fuel- and carbon-efficient and help lead our nation’s fight against climate change. By offering more passenger seating than other airlines on similarly-sized aircraft, the nation’s five ultra-low cost carriers – Avelo Airlines, Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Sun Country Airlines – have the lowest fuel consumption per seat in the United States. We believe these legislative initiatives will enhance the U.S. airline industry’s ongoing efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and would pay near- and long-term dividends in the battle against climate change.

A copy of the letter and legislative initiatives can be found here.

NACA Opposes USPS Plan for Reducing Air Carriage of First Class Mail

In response to Postmaster General DeJoy’s announced plan for the U.S. Postal Service, “Delivering for America,” NACA President and CEO George Novak issued the following statement:

NACA strongly opposes the proposed service reductions for the U.S. Postal Service put forward by Postmaster General DeJoy. He appears to be drawing upon flawed logic and bad data regarding service delays to provide an external scapegoat – air carriers – to account for internal processing delays.

Reductions in First Class Mail air service will have an unquestionably deleterious effect on mail delivery – particularly to rural areas – slowing and degrading an already poor record of service. In fact, contrary to standard business practice in every successful organization, the proposal seems premised on taking customer complaints about service and deliberately making a bad situation worse, increasing costs and delivery backlogs.

Furthermore, the proposal will necessarily involve putting many more trucks on the nation’s roads, dramatically increasing traffic congestion everywhere, along with an accompanying increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Added environmental costs make an already unjustifiable business decision completely untenable. And the cost to taxpayers will be substantial, essentially subsidizing further losses in a misguided effort.

We strongly urge Congress to step in and rescind Postmaster General DeJoy’s plan. Congress has a Constitutional mandate to “establish Post Offices and Post Roads.” This proposal hardly fulfills that Constitutional obligation.

NACA Applauds Special Enforcement Emphasis Program Extension

In response to the March 15 announcement that FA Administrator Steve Dickson was ordering the extension of the FAA’s Special Enforcement Emphasis Program indefinitely, NACA President and CEO George Novak issued the following statement:

The National Air Carrier Association applauds the decision by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson to extend the FAA’s Special Emphasis Enforcement Program against unruly passengers indefinitely. Unruly passenger incidents — which remain at an alarmingly high level — truly put public health and the safety of our aircrews at risk. Zero tolerance enforcement is a necessary step to deter these incidents and we support the decision to keep the program in place at least as long as the implementing TSA Security Directive is in place.

NACA sent Administrator Dickson a letter last week, urging him to take this common-sense step. We look forward to working with the Administrator, the unions, other aviation stakeholders and the traveling public to put in place the appropriate educational and informational measures that will bring this problem under control and ensure public health and safety — particularly the safety of our aircrews, whose contributions are critically important during this trying time.

NACA Joins Travel Coalition Opposing Pre-Departure Testing Requirement for Domestic Air Travel

NACA joined a coalition of 23 travel, aviation and manufacturing associations to send a letter to COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients January 29, 2021, opposing the imposition of a pre-departure testing requirement for domestic air travel.

The letter states in part:

We strongly support many aspects of the Executive Order, such as the Federal mask mandate for interstate travel and pre-departure testing for international arriving passengers. However, we are concerned by recent media reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering a pre-departure testing requirement for domestic air travel. The industry remains committed to supporting risk-based, scientific approaches to contagion mitigation.

Given the strong scientific evidence that the risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard an aircraft is very low, we believe that a testing requirement for domestic air travel is unwarranted. Further, public health and economic data indicate that this policy would disproportionately prevent low-income travelers and rural Americans in small communities from travel. They may have less access to testing facilities, which could cause further job loss and economic harm to the most devastated sectors of the economy, who will need air service to take part in recovery. Therefore, the costs and consequences of a testing requirement for domestic air travel would far outweigh any potential benefits.

Read the full letter here.

NACA Opposes Mandatory Pre-Flight COVID-19 Testing on Domestic Flights

On January 28, 2021, in response to media reports indicating the Biden Administration is considering imposing a COVID-19 testing requirement for domestic air passengers, NACA President and CEO George Novak issued the following statement:

NACA strongly supports CDC’s most recent efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in all transportation modes, including aviation, by mandating that passengers and workers wear face coverings. However, we are concerned by recent reports that the CDC is actively considering a requirement for pre-flight COVID testing on domestic flights. Scientific evidence, demonstrated in the November study conducted by the Harvard Aviation Public Health Initiative, suggests that air travel is as safe as — or substantially safer than — the routine activities people undertake during these times, including commuting, eating out and grocery shopping.

We believe implementation of such a requirement would be extremely difficult given the high cost and continuing low availability of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Furthermore, such a proposal would disproportionately impact aviation vis-à-vis rail, bus and public transit, all of which have similar passenger seating environments, because travelers may be unwilling or unable to get testing before flying. In addition, a domestic testing requirement for air travel will inevitably result in potential air travelers electing to drive to their destinations, which is statistically more dangerous than flying and could lead to higher rates of COVID-19 transmission, as road trips typically include indoor food and rest stops.

Finally, imposing such a testing requirement domestically would be devastating to the U.S. airline industry and airline workers by further depressing U.S. air passenger volumes, which reached a six-month low yesterday in terms of TSA traveler screenings. The adverse economic impacts would necessitate financial assistance from the Federal Government well above and beyond the Department of Treasury’s Airline Payroll Support Program, since labor costs are approximately 25% of airline operating costs.

We look forward to continue working collaboratively with CDC, DHS, the FAA, airline unions, and other aviation stakeholders to implement science-based initiatives to further enhance the safety of our passengers and crew.

NACA Statement on Executive Order Mandating Masks on Airplanes and in Airports

In response to President Biden’s Executive Order Mandating Masks on Airplanes and in Airports, George Novak, President and CEO of the National Air Carrier Association issued the following statement:
NACA applauds President Biden for the issuance of the Executive Order Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel — particularly the provisions requiring that masks be worn on commercial aircraft and in airports. This is a critical and long-overdue step to ensure the safety of passengers, crewmembers and those working at airports and to eliminate any lingering uncertainty regarding mask requirements in commercial aviation. NACA carriers look forward to working collaboratively with Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, their staff and other aviation stakeholders to quickly develop the necessary regulations and practices to implement and enforce this crucial and timely mandate.

NACA Statement on DOT Slot Divestiture Decision at JFK and DCA

In response to the Transportation Department decision not to specifically mandate that divested slots from American and JetBlue at JFK and DCA go to LCCs and ULCCs, per previous practice, Chris Brown, Vice President of Government Affairs and Ultra Low-Cost Carrier Policy at NACA issued the following statement:
We are disappointed that DOT squandered an opportunity to enhance competition at slot-constrained airports JFK and DCA, by including highly inadequate divestiture requirements as a condition of the Department’s approval of their anti-competitive alliance. However, we look forward to working with Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg — who indicated at his nomination hearing yesterday that he recognizes the benefits to the traveling public of enhancing competition at small and large airports — to improve market access for ULCCs at these and other concentrated markets, lowering fares for travelers.

NACA Statement on FAA Order Against Unruly Passengers

In response to the FAA Order directing a “Stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents,” NACA President and CEO George Novak issued the following statement on Jan. 14, 2021:

“We commend FAA Administrator Steve Dickson for strengthening FAA’s unruly passenger policy in light of last week’s tragic events at the U.S. Capitol.  This bold action will deter such behavior on flights and further enhance aviation safety.  NACA will continue working with our government partners, airline unions and other industry stakeholders to ensure the safety of our passengers and flight crews.”