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Airlines to government: Spend more on system


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An association of major U.S. airlines urged the government Wednesday to spend $200 million to add air traffic controllers and help reduce flight delays.

"Today, the airline industry is calling on President Bush to make aviation a national priority and to speed up improvements in our aviation infrastructure," said Carol Hallett, president of the Air Transport Association.

The announcement, some industry observers believe, was timed to deflect the expected sting from a report on airline travel the U.S. Transportation Department is preparing for release next week. In it, the department's inspector general is expected to criticize the airline industry's practice of overscheduling flights, especially during peak periods.


The anticipated report had nothing to do with the ATA's announcement, Hallett said

"This is not a preemptive move on anything," Hallett said. "This is to signal to the new administration that we believe there are ways in which the system can be improved."

Flight delays last year increased 20 percent over 1999 and 47 percent over 1998, and last summer was the worst ever. Technological improvement and the addition of more controllers would reduce delays significantly, the ATA said.

Hallett said the government could help ease dissatisfaction by hiring 1,000 new air traffic controllers to improve a "safe, but overtaxed system" and to speed implementation of Global Positioning System satellite navigation.

The association also recommended a redesign of the nation's airspace and an upgrade of the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic computer system.

"The bottom line is that the traveling public is fed up with delays and steps need to be taken immediately," Hallett said.

Senate bills aim to improve air travel
January 30, 2001
Report: Flight delays at all-time high in 2000
January 22, 2001
Senator introduces bill to make airlines more accountable
July 20, 2000
Federal report gives mixed reviews to airline service efforts
June 27, 2000

Air Transport Association
Federal Aviation Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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