Etihad Subsidies Highlighted at Chamber Aviation Summit; CEO Doesn’t Rebut $17B in UAE Subsidies

etihad 42015.JPG At the recent Chamber of Commerce 14th Annual Aviation Summit, the nonprofit coalition, Americans for Fair Skies, highlighted the subsidies by the United Arab Emirates to its national airline, Etihad Airways. The CEO of Etihad, James Hogan (Shown at right), spoke to the summit and had an opportunity to directly address the subsidies, but instead only indirectly addressed the subsidy facts but offered no rebuttal.

Hogan argued that as a nationally owned airline, their “shareholder” [Abu Dhabi] had a right to equity investment. However, he did not address the fact that since 2004, Etihad has received more than $6.6 billion in interest-free government “loans” with no repayment obligation and $6.3 billion in UAE government capital injections, both of which are defined as subsidies by the World Trade Organization (WTO). In fact, when directly asked if he thought Etihad was in compliance with Open Skies agreements, he again deflected and said that he felt that was something for governments to figure out.

U.S. Chamber Holds Annual Aviation Summit

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(Photo - Participating in a panel discussion on ATC are from left, Ed Bolen, NBAA, Eamonn Brennan, Ireland Aviation Authority, John Crichton, NAV Canada and Jeff Smisek, United Airlines. Robert Crandall was moderator. Photo by Kim Stevens.)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation held its 14th Annual Aviation Summit - Flight Path 2015, The Future of Space and Aviation in the Global Economy - on Tuesday attracting more than 700 guests and 30 chief executives. Each year the Chamber presents the forum that brings together top experts and leaders from all sectors of aviation to discuss issues impacting the industry.

Reauthorization was one of those issues and leading the way with his idea of a transformational bill was Congressman Bill Shuster, Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Shuster, who called the FAA a vast bureaucracy, said they started discussing reauthorization 15 months ago. He said that we need to take action and that we can't settle for status quo. "That's not the way to go," said Shuster, who acknowledged that it's going to be tough. He added that the committee will continue to work with stakeholders to find the sweet-spot.

National General Aviation Award Recipients Named

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mary schuedit.jpg For more than 50 years, the General Aviation Awards program and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have recognized aviation professionals for their contributions to general aviation in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance, avionics, and safety. This year’s recipients for the National General Aviation Awards are, Mary A. Schu (shown at right) of Tualatin, Oregon—Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year; Donald D. Streitenberger Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio—Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year; Ricky D. Hestilow of Arlington, Texas—Avionics Technician of the Year; and Christopher J. Hope of Kansas City, Missouri—FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Representative of the Year.

The FAA will present individual plaques to the four during EAA AirVenture 2015 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in July and their names will be added to the large permanent plaque located in the lobby of the EAA AirVenture Museum. Also included in the prize packages are all-expenses-paid trips to Oshkosh to attend the awards presentation and other special GA Awards activities.

“These awards highlight the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation education and flight safety,” said GA Awards board chairman Arlynn McMahon, “The awards program sponsors are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers in Oshkosh.”

Aviation Associations Asking Congress for Full Contract Tower Funding

A coalition of aviation groups, including the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) have written leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to reassert the vital role that contract air traffic control towers play in improving safety and saving taxpayer dollars, and made a simple request that language be included in a Federal Aviation Administration appropriations bill to ensure their continued operation.

"The FAA Contract Tower Program has provided cost-effective and essential air traffic safety services since 1982," wrote J. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA) and the leaders of eight other aviation groups. "Together these 252 towers handle approximately 28 percent of all air traffic control tower (ATCT) aircraft operations in the U.S. but only account for about 14 percent of FAA's overall budget allotted to ATCT tower operations," the letter continued. "More importantly, the safety and efficiency record of the FAA Contract Tower Program has been validated numerous times by the DOT Inspector General, as well as by FAA safety audits."

FAA Forecast Sees Continued, Steady Growth in Air Travel

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an annual aviation forecast last week that shows the nation’s aviation system will continue to grow over the next two decades with greater numbers of people expected to fly more miles each year.

“The improving economy continues to bode well for the health of the U.S air transportation system,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The FAA and industry are continuing to deploy NextGen technologies and procedures to ensure that the nation’s aviation system can safely and efficiently meet our growing airspace demands.”

Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) are the aviation standard for measuring air travel volume. An RPM represents one paying passenger traveling one mile.The FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2015 to 2035 projects RPM growth for U.S. air carriers to average 2.5 percent per year over the 20-year forecast.
Load Factor is a term that represents the average percentage of seats filled in commercial passenger aircraft. The report concluded that U.S. air carrier Load Factors were an estimated 83.4 percent in 2014. Load Factors are projected to grow to 84.2 percent by 2035.

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