ACI has begun a campaign called AirportsUnited “Beyond the Runway” coalition. Why? Who else?
Aviation issues are well understood by those within the industry, even though some of that knowledge is developed in the course of incessant internecine debate. Airplanes generate jobs in the service, hospitality, manufacturing, construction, professional and other sectors. Those natural allies seem to have a dearth of information about NextGen, FAA financing/taxes, safety compliance/enforcement, controller training/staffing, airspace and runway capacity, the processes/costs of construction at airports, PFCs, TSA fees, contract towers and the like.
That means when, for example, Congress is considering reauthorization of the FAA (affecting all of the specific issues mentioned in the previous paragraph), it will be difficult or without greater education/outreach to expand the base of support outside of aviation. It takes a lot of time to explain the merits of full funding of NextGen and then to describe why it is important and justified to increase the funds from the General Revenues and not to increase taxes placed on aviation users. The values of PFCs (or not) is not intuitive and requires a thorough briefing. Here is a brief review of other efforts to create coalitions:
- · ACI’s program is called AirportsUnited “Beyond the Runway” coalition.
- · NBAA and GAMA have “No Plane, No Gain”, an educational program.
- · The Alliance for Aviation Across America is coalition of more than thirty trade groups including AOPA, AAAE, ASHTO, EAA, HAI, NATA, NBAA , NASAO and a large number of rural/agricultural organizations.
- · A4A touts its perspective through its National Airline Policy.
- · The Second to None group is an adjunct to AIA and the website states its goal is to “unite America’s aerospace and defense workers, active and retired military personnel and broad supporters of national security, aviation and space in a common cause to preserve America’s role as the global leader in aerospace and defense.”
- · ALPA, the IAM and other unions network through the AFL/CIO for added clout.
Likely there are other grassroots efforts created by other sectors of the aviation industry.
Each of the outreach groups mentioned has its own agenda and are developing support through their efforts. There some commonalities among their lists, but unfortunately there is no visible unanimous consensus on the major issues. Consequently, it will be interesting to see how the Congress responds to these multiple grassroots efforts.