Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Airheads: Deja Vu All Over Again?

That partial shsutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that happened in July, just before the United States Congress went away for summer recess? It could happen again. FAA's temporary funding extension expires in two weeks and the politicos are butting heads once more.

The issue, according to a timely and in-depth Labor Day report in the Sept. 5 Atlanta Journal-Constitution (www.ajc.com), is a provision in proposed FAA authorization legislation that would allow railroad and airline workers to organize and join unions more easily. Major carriers, spearheaded by Atlanta's largely non-union Delta Air Lines, oppose this provision, as explained in the piece by reporter Daniel Malloy.

Travelers within, to and from the U.S. have to hope this doesn't happen again. Although air-traffic controllers were not among the several thousand FAA workers furloughed or the 70,000 contract workers on transport construction projects that were idled when their funding ran out last time, the aviation system doesn't need more disruption. Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. airlines have still not fully recovered, especially with high fuel costs and a lousy economy; a partial shutdown of this important federal agency would be one more headwind for them to face.

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