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By JENNIFER SCHOLTES
JETBLUE CEO SAYS BIG THREE DON’T SPEAK FOR EVERYBODY: In the Open Skies fight, the feud so often gets characterized as U.S. airlines vs. Gulf carriers. But the battle lines don’t break down so clearly, as JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes explained to POLITICO in a recent sit-down interview you can check out this morning: http://politico.pro/1Jt6GtS. “I think we want to make sure that people understand that the big three don’t speak for the whole U.S. airline industry, they speak for themselves,” Hayes said, noting that JetBlue and several other U.S. companies are arguing against the pleas Delta, United and American are making for the Obama administration to renegotiate Open Skies agreements with Etihad, Qatar and Emirates.
‘The green light’: Hayes said companies like JetBlue, Hawaiian, FedEx and Atlas are making the case that there “really is nothing to talk about” and that starting those discussions could put U.S. carriers in jeopardy of losing access abroad. “We’ve now hit the green light for other countries to come to the U.S. and potentially start consultations,” he said. “And I think that that could very quickly present huge issues for, particularly, some of the small airlines like JetBlue. We think that the risks are very significant if a lot of the Open Skies treaties you have start to unravel. For younger airlines like JetBlue who are still growing, we rely on these treaties to grow.”
Throwing stones: Hayes contends that governments around the world help their airlines in different ways, like the U.S. government’s bankruptcy laws that assist U.S. airlines in shedding liabilities when they’ve gotten into financial trouble. “I think it really looks to me like the big three are sitting in a glass house throwing stones,” he said. “And where do we draw the line? Let’s take China, another country where the industry has been heavily subsidized, and you’ve got the same three big airlines having partnerships with Chinese airlines. There’s a lot of hypocrisy in this whole thing.”
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“Superhighways, coast to coast — easy to get anywhere.” http://bit.ly/1JfHV5f (H/t Maggie Chan)
NASA SET TO INTENTIONALLY CRASH PLANE TODAY: NASA plans this afternoon to simulate a “severe but survivable” plane crash by dropping a Cessna 172 from 100 feet to test emergency locator transmitters. This will be the last of three crash tests to simulate different, but common, crash conditions. The agency dropped the first Cessna 172 nose-down from about 80 feet onto concrete and dropped the second nose-down from 100 feet onto dirt. On this third test, the plane will be dropped tail-down onto dirt. Watch the webcast between 1 and 2 p.m. to catch the drop live: http://bit.ly/1KgDBXv.
NEW IG DATA PLAYS INTO ATC PRIVITIZATION DEBATE: Lawmakers in favor of pulling air traffic control duties out of the FAA’s purview are sure to cite the new inspector general report that shows that some of the agency’s control towers are sucking up 42 percent to 98 percent more resources than others, costing the agency more than $850 million. Our Lauren Gardner reports that “the IG pegged additional costs from the inefficient towers at $142 million per year from fiscal years 2008 through 2013, adding up to $853 million over that period. Auditors said those costs resulted at least partially from the less-efficient facilities using more labor hours and more equipment to manage each operation and train new workers than the higher-performing towers.” More on which D.C.-area hubs got called out as least efficient: http://politico.pro/1NxpvDg. The report: http://1.usa.gov/1LtN6S2.
DOT EXPECTED TO SPEND ANOTHER FIVE YEARS ON PILOT DATABASE: In the deluge of FAA-related reports DOT’s inspector general just put out, the IG released an audit Monday noting that the pilot record database Congress ordered in 2010 isn’t expected to be fully operational until 2020. Our Kathryn A. Wolfe reports (http://politico.pro/1fCcw4j) that the audit “details years of foot-dragging from FAA that in some cases has resulted in concerns about whether older records are even attainable from some air carriers. For instance, the audit says FAA waited two years to assess whether air carriers are retaining the records the law requires be made available, and ‘as a result, three of the nine carriers we visited had not revised their policies to retain these records.’ Further, some records from prior employers may not be accessible, the audit said, because FAA hasn’t created a process to ensure that records are maintained after an airline goes belly up. The audit cites 750 companies, including commercial carriers, that have gone out of business and ‘relinquished their FAA certificate’ in the four years since the law was passed.” Check out the audit for yourself: http://1.usa.gov/1WOWx4O.
FAA’S NEXTGEN STRUGGLES DRAG ON: Just a week after the centerpiece of the FAA’s NextGen system took the blame for delaying hundreds of flights out of Northeast airports, DOT’s inspector general is weighing in with more bad news about the satellite-based air traffic control system this week. The IG reported Monday that NextGen implementation is still going slow and costing more than expected. And our Heather Caygle reports (http://politico.pro/1WOWar1) that, according to the government watchdog report, “the FAA has failed to properly launch and implement tools aimed at making the air traffic control system more efficient in ways that will boost capacity, increase on-time arrivals and cut down on fuel costs.” The FAA’s deployment of tools that allow controllers to manage traffic by separating aircraft based on time, rather than the traditional miles-based method, has been “plagued with significant problems,” according to the IG. And the agency is “years away” from launching the specific tools needed to better manage airport arrivals. In the IG’s words: http://1.usa.gov/1Jfx9Ma.
COLBERT KICKS OFF WITH TRANSPO TECH BIGWIGS: Morning Tech notes this morning that two transportation giants are slated to join Stephen Colbert in his first week as host of The Late Show next month. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick are in line to sit down with Colbert on Sept. 9 and 10, respectively, Entertainment Weekly reports (http://bit.ly/1NFz95Q). The tech chiefs stand out in a lineup that includes more likely late-night guests like actors George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson, as well as GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush. Any bets on who’s funnier? Drop us a line.
ATA LOADS UP ON LOBBYISTS: POLITICO Influence reports that American Trucking Associations has hired Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas to lobby on federal preemption on trucking regulations. The group has spent $1.1 million on lobbying the federal government so far this year and is on track to exceed last year’s overall federal lobbying spending of $1.8 million. http://politi.co/19CSZuW
MOVING ON UP: The American Society of Travel Agents has just hired Kevin Wang to be director of industry affairs and research. Wang has expertise in collecting and analyzing data, and he previously worked for the U.S. Travel Association and Choice Hotels International. At ASTA, he will help make sense of data and track trends about the travel industry.
THE AUTOBAHN (SPEED READ):
— Driverless truck meant to improve safety in work zones. AP: http://bit.ly/1V67rBh
— Maryland authorities say two men planned to use a drone to get drugs and porn into a prison. The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/1fBWwPT
— Security researcher who hacked moving Jeep leaves Twitter. Reuters: http://reut.rs/1Ua2iWo
— Etihad got $2.5 billion capital injection from Abu Dhabi. The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1U3lnPt
— Uber unleashes lobbyists in California to reshape driver rules. Bloomberg Politics: http://bloom.bg/1MOmcaz
— A national model for better streets is suddenly at risk. CityLab: http://bit.ly/1WOqxgZ
— Metro speed restrictions in effect on curves, other portions of track. The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/1WPcecb
— Controller sent pilot who died in NY crash to closed airport. AP: http://abcn.ws/1IbeyiJ
THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 66 days. DOT appropriations run out and the FAA reauthorization expires in 38 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 444 days.Tags: transportation