Last updated: 04:50 PM ET, Tue September 29 2015

USTA Welcomes FAA Extension, Urges Further Action

Impacting Travel | Barry Kaufman | September 29, 2015

USTA Welcomes FAA Extension, Urges Further Action

According to C-Span Capitol Hill Producer Craig Caplan, H.R. 3614, the Airport and Airway Extension Act, has passed both the House and the Senate. Pending approval by President Obama, the bill will extend funding of the Federal Aviation Administration for another six months to March 31, 2016.

H.R. 3614 replaced a similar bill introduced by the Senate would have extended funding, but was dropped last week as part of the fallout over funding of Planned Parenthood. The current bill, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) cleared the House and Senate quickly to avoid a Thursday shutdown deadline.

With passage of the bill being so crucial to the travel industry, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow released a statement applauding the passage of H.R.3614, the Airport and Airway Extension Act.

"The U.S. Travel community is grateful to Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio and leaders in both chambers for ensuring that the operations of the FAA continue without interruption.

"But Congress as a whole needs a new approach to transportation policy. We cannot continually apply a Band-Aid to an air travel system that is hemorrhaging dollars for the U.S. economy. In 2013 alone passengers avoided 38 million trips due to infrastructure-related flying hassles, costing the economy more than $35 billion.

"FAA reauthorization represents an opportunity to bolster and revitalize passenger air travel in this country, but only if the measure takes a comprehensive approach to the problems in the system. A transformational bill will only live up to its name if it improves the weakest links in the system, tackling infrastructure and fostering choice for travelers by restoring air travel competition.

"We appreciate the dynamics at play on Capitol Hill nowadays, so we have crafted an airport modernization proposal that addresses this critical issue by coupling a tax cut on flyers with a long-overdue adjustment to the Passenger Facility Charge. It's the closest thing to a win-win you're going to find in Washington in this day and age. We urge Congress to give it a look when this temporary measure expires in March."

Congress seems to share USTA’s urgency for a long-term solution. In addressing the House before the voice vote, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said, "I would encourage all members to support this six-month extension to give us the time to get our bill on and off the floor and let the Senate work on it so we can truly do something that’s bold, do something that’s transformational and do something that’ll be very, very positive for aviation," Shuster said.

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