AAA President/CEO Issues Four Point Plan To Improve the Air Travel System

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 AAA President Robert L. Darbelnet
today recommended a four-point plan to improve the nation's air travel system.
Citing increasing delays and growing air traveler frustration, Darbelnet urged
transportation policy makers to seriously consider privatizing the Federal air
traffic control system.  Other recommended initiatives include continuing full
congressional investment of aviation trust fund monies, airline commitment to
improved service, and collaboration among FAA, Congress and the airlines to
address air system problems.  The policy recommendations were given at a
speech today at the Atlanta Rotary Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
    AAA is the largest leisure travel organization in the U.S., selling more
than $1 billion in airline tickets last year alone. To ascertain AAA member
views on the state of air travel, the association is conducting a national
survey with results scheduled for release in December.
    "Today, air travel is often tedious, stressful and unreliable," said AAA
President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.  "In fact, air passengers this summer
are enduring the worst travel season in America's airline history."
    In his comments to the group, Mr. Darbelnet characterized the problems as
Congress consistently under-funding aviation infrastructure, the FAA
consistently under-performing, the airlines losing touch with their customers,
and "all three are pointing fingers instead of solving the problem."

    AAA's concerns were outlined in a letter sent last week to the United
States Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater.  In the letter Darbelnet
commended Slater for convening an "Aviation Summit" but urged the Secretary to
concentrate on the following:

    1.  Fully Fund Aviation Projects -- Insist that Congress continue to fully
invest the aviation trust fund revenues in air systems improvements.
Expand the Capacity of the System -- Either by building new airports, or
aggressively expanding existing facilities, including fuller utilization of
regional airports.
    2.  Consider New Management Approaches -- It is time to fundamentally re-
think the way we manage and operate the nation's air system.  Privatizing air
traffic control should be fully explored.
    3.  Take Collaborative Action -- Insist upon a collaborative effort among
the interested parties.  The current pattern of the airlines, the FAA and
Congress blaming each other is not accomplishing anything other than
exasperating the traveling public.
    4.  AAA also told Secretary Slater that air passengers are a major
stakeholder in a safe and efficient air system and should be represented at
the summit.

    "Now is the time to act, to partner and bring our system to a state of
health in which it can perform to expectations and become the model for the
entire world," he said.  "We must work together-quickly, creatively and
cooperatively."

    As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA
provides its 43 million members with travel, insurance, financial and
automotive-related services.  Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit,
fully tax paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and
security of all travelers.


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