For Immediate Release

Release No. AOC-8-07
March 15, 2007
Contact: Henry J. Price
Phone: (202) 267-3883

Secretary Peters Cautions that Growing Delays Will Continue Without Changes


WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters today cautioned that aviation delays will grow without significant reforms, as forecasters predict air traffic will increase by the equivalent of two major hub airports each year through 2020.

The number of passengers carried by U.S. commercial air carriers is on track to hit the one billion mark by 2015, according to the report. Certain key hubs, such as Washington Dulles (68 percent), New York Kennedy (59 percent), Los Angeles International (54 percent), and Atlanta Hartsfield (38 percent), will see significant growth in the number of take-offs and landings, risking major passenger delays if we fail to upgrade the nation’s air traffic control system.

While the Secretary noted the strong economy could drive new traffic, she also cautioned that already growing delays will continue to get worse without significant changes to the nation’s air traffic control system. Delays last year reached an all time high and now cost the nation’s economy over $10 billion annually.

“The freedom that flying has brought to our lives is being challenged by delays in our current aviation system,” Secretary Peters said. “Replacing our dated air traffic control architecture with a 21st Century satellite-based system will return freedom, convenience and reliability to the skies.”

To meet the coming demand and avoid a continuation of this year’s record delays, the Bush Administration has proposed legislation to help relieve congestion, improve passenger airline travel, and cut noise for communities near airports. The Secretary noted that the legislation, the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, would replace the decades-old system of collecting ticket taxes with a cost-based, stable and reliable funding program that relies on a combination of user fees, taxes and a federal government contribution to achieve the NextGen system.

The FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2007-2020 predicts 768 million passengers to be flying this fiscal year, more-than one billion passengers by 2015, and 1.2 billion by 2020. The forecast also expects 62.5 million take-offs and landings at the nation’s towered airports this fiscal year. By 2020, that number is expected to reach 81.1 million operations, growing by an average of 1.4 million per year during the forecast period. In addition, general aviation, or private flying hours are expected to increase by 59 percent by 2020.

“As part of a wide-ranging transformation of the entire airspace system, our reform proposal will ensure that we can fund a move away from ground-based technologies into more dynamic satellite-based operations,” said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. “Our goal is to ensure that everyone pays their fair share for these upgrades by fixing revenues to the costs that users impose on the air traffic system, whether commercial, business or general aviation.”

More information on FAA’s forecast report and reform proposal can be obtained by going to www.faa.gov.

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