ATW Editor's Blog

If only ATM modernization, not the Gulf carriers, was the target of this campaign

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A quick thought on a week that has once more seen the two sides in the US vs. Gulf carrier dispute counter-claiming and, in the case of the US coalition, touting growing support from the lawmakers, local labor groups, trade associations and authorities it has been lobbying in a grass roots campaign. These people, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies says, now fear for the future of American aviation and American jobs.

Thank goodness, then, that the coalition guys came along to inform them of the perils, even though those Open Skies agreements and the Gulf carriers have been in existence for some 10 or more years and no one felt threatened until this spring.

But to my quick thought: had the CEOs of the three US carriers – American, Delta and United – come together and partnered to a similar extent with the labor groups, lawmakers, local authorities and pro-American aviation groups, investing similar amounts of time, energy and money as they have on this anti-Gulf carrier campaign, but instead the target was US air traffic management reform …think where we might now be with NextGen?  How much richer the US airlines might be thanks to the savings reaped from an efficient ATM system and the improved service they would be delivering to their customers.

If it’s so easy to pull together America and the industry on the issue of Gulf carriers and Open Skies – of which many of the supporting constituents knew little until 2015 – why is it so hard to join forces on ATM modernization, which would create American technology jobs, improve US carrier operational and financial performances, and get the American traveling public to their destinations with fewer delays and frustration? How much brighter and secure the future of American commercial aviation would look with the advantage of a 21st Century ATM system.

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