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Panel Urges U.S. to Consider Selling Peak-Hour Flight Times to Airlines

December 22, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The President's Commission on Privatization recommended Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration consider selling peak-hour flight times to airlines to reduce congestion during key traveling hours.

Under the commission plan, airlines would bid for a limited number of desirable departure slots and, possibly, pass on those additional costs to passengers willing to pay more to fly at a certain time.

Charge on Airlines

In a set of recommendations relating to air travel, the commission suggested also that the FAA consider imposing a "passenger facility charge" on airlines for their use of certain airport services.

In addition, the panel said that the FAA should consider hiring private companies to perform maintenance on air traffic control equipment and to operate flight service stations, which provide weather and traffic information to airlines.

The commission said that private companies might also be able to take over some functions performed in airport towers, particularly at smaller airports. Panel members noted that air traffic control towers at 14 smaller airports already are run by private firms.

"The FAA should move, in a careful, incremental fashion, to privatize certain of its functions," Commission Chairman David Linowes said. "From all the testimony we have heard, certain areas of FAA responsibility can benefit from increased privatization in terms of increased safety, service and efficiency."

Linowes argued that private companies could move much more quickly than the FAA to develop and install modern air traffic control equipment because, unlike the FAA, they would not have to push budget plans through Congress.

"All the FAA need do is write a two-sentence requirement that a contractor provide this kind of equipment," Linowes said.

New but Outdated

Now, he said, it can take the FAA between four and seven years to install new systems. "By the time it's installed, it's outdated,"

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