Aviation Industry Seeks Government Aid on Financial, Security Measures

A broad swath of representatives from the aviation industry ? pilots, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and others ? are asking the federal government to take immediate steps to provide financial relief and security measures in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


John Douglass, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Industries Association in Washington, called for the federal government Sept. 17 to take over responsibility for security for the U.S. air transport system. The association's membership is comprised of manufacturers of commercial, military and business aircraft, helicopters, aircraft engines, missiles, spacecraft and related components and equipment.


"In the war against international terrorism, only the federal government has complete access to the full range of information and resources needed to provide complete security for America's air transport system," Douglass said. "Federal authorities should immediately take full control of the air passenger screening process, elevate the visibility of law enforcement and military at our airports and expand the sky marshal program."


In a draft white paper, the airline industry is proposing that the federal government provide financial support for all mandated safety requirements, including the reinforcement of cockpit doors and enhancement of screening devices; take over all security screening functions; and provide sky marshals on domestic flights.


The Bush administration is likely to approach Congress with a financial aid package to protect the security, safety and stability of the airline industry, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Sept. 18.

Three days earlier, the House of Representatives put off a measure that would have provided $2.5 billion in direct assistance and another $12.5 billion in loan guarantees. Concerns have been raised that the industry is seeking special treatment.


The airline industry is facing huge revenue losses after last week's shutdown of airports, continuing bottlenecks in travel routes and passenger screening, and the erosion of traveler confidence on top of continued softening in the U.S. economy.

In the draft white paper, the industry estimated its losses from the Sept. 11 attack alone could reach $24 billion, based on anticipated revenue declines and cost increases.


Major layoffs are wracking the industry. CNN reported Sept. 18 that United Airlines plans to cut at least 20,000 employees ? 20 percent of its work force. US Airways had already announced it would cut capacity 23 percent and lay off 11,000 employees, while Northwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines also plan schedule cutbacks and work-force reductions.

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