Monday, June 11, 2007

AOPA members strike back at airlines

As I team up with AOPA to fight user fees, I pledged long ago to occasionally offer verbatim copy from aopa.org when it gets this juicy and hot:

AOPA members — including some airline employees themselves — are stepping up to the plate to counter the propaganda in two airline in-flight magazines. And many have pledged to stash AOPA's downloadable counter arguments in the magazines next to the offending editorials.

One member wrote United's president, "I just want to remind you that it is me, as a U.S. taxpayer, that is subsidizing you! You should be mentioning that in your articles on funding the air traffic control system."


"I was very angry when I read your article about the misinformation being placed in the seat pockets of my airline," wrote an AOPA member and flight attendant. "First my airline takes a huge chunk of my salary and now this!" This member vowed to "talk to my passengers reading this garbage."

One pilot, a loyal United Airlines customer, eviscerated every one of the airlines' claims in his letter to the president.
"The assertion that air traffic control does not use satellite navigation is patently false," he wrote. "A quick look at the paper charts carried by all pilots in the cockpit will show that satellite-based navigation is absolutely in use. A look at the terminal procedures publications...will show numerous satellite-based approaches into nearly every airport in the country."

He reminded the United chief that most airline delays are due to weather, scheduling, or airline crew or equipment problems. Noting that he kept a travel diary of every one of his airline flights, he said that more than half of his 30 most recent flights were late or delayed. Only two of those flights were late because of air traffic control flow delays.

He said he "laughed himself silly" when he read that ATC was being blamed for most airline delays. "The assertion that the FAA funding mechanism must be changed is something only a lobbyist could say with a straight face....Everything about the ATC system was designed to accommodate airlines, which is why they pay a larger share of the costs to operate it."
And you've just got to love this money quote, a parting shot from a letter author to United's CEO:

"Poor business practices have caused the current instability in the airline industry, not the fees they pay to monopolize the ATC system."
Could not possibly have said it any better myself.