Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) spoke from the floor of the Senate today in support of the bill to provide a permanent reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after 17 short-term extensions. He said that the "promise of jobs, consumer and traveler protections, home grown technological innovation and reductions in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas pollution could not come at a better time." The airline industry accounts for nearly 11 million U.S. jobs and $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity.
"Our nation's economy is recovering from the worst economic recession in decades. Critical to getting our economy moving forward and getting Americans back to work is building an efficient and modern intermodal transportation system. I strongly support the FAA reauthorization, which will create 280,000 jobs in airports around the country. As the first bill we have taken up in the new Congress, it demonstrates our focus in the Senate on job creation and our commitment to help get Americans back to work.
"Every day, dedicated employees of the FAA face the daunting task of marshalling thousands of aircraft, and the air travelers on those planes, across the country from airports and airfields both large and small located in nearly every corner of the U.S. Critical to maintaining the safest skies in the world will be federal investment in and deployment of the 'Next Gen' Flight Guidance System that will use cutting-edge technology to cut travel times and reduce costs by directing shorter routes that use less fuel and generate less pollution, helping flying consumers and the environment.
"I support the Passengers' Bill of Rights which is incorporated into this bill. No one should ever be forced to stay aboard a plane on the tarmac for extended periods of time. I also applaud the provisions that provide consumers with better information about the wide range of fees airlines and airports impose upon the flying public. Travelers are flying less thanks to the poor economy and this has hurt the airline industry. As a result, airlines have resorted to charging a variety of fees for services on each flight. Unfortunately, these fees often hit customers by surprise after they are already committed to getting on their airplane.
"Last Congress, I introduced legislation to ensure that air travelers were made well aware of all the fees they were being charged to fly. The Passengers' Bill of Rights goes a long way to improving the user experience for air travelers and will also help restore lost consumer confidence. I look forward to working with colleagues to make sure that the issue of surprise fees also is adequately addressed.
"Lastly, I think it is important to acknowledge the thousands of hardworking pilots, flight attendants and other members of the nation's flight crews. Without their service, air travel would not be possible. I am pleased that several of the labor organizations that represent so many hardworking Americans in the aviation industry support this bill, particularly the important worker safety provisions this legislation provides workers in the aviation industry."
BWI-Thurgood Marshall served 21 million passengers in 2009 and was ranked first out of 140 international airports, worldwide, that serve 15-25 million passengers annually by the Airports Council International's Airport Service Quality survey. "I appreciate the opportunity this bill gives me to show my support for Maryland's flagship airport and the 35 other commercial, municipal, regional and general aviation airports across my state," Senator Cardin added.