There was an important court case decided last week. It didn’t get much attention in the general press, but was pretty big news in the aviation trades. And it was great news for passengers around the country.
You see, in 2008 the US Department of Transportation issued rules on airport rates and charges. The rules clarified that airports can charge a two-part landing fee based on whether or not a flight was coming at a peak time. This makes sense, after all the airlines price their product the same way (as was pointed out in the opinion). Airports must still base their charges on the overall rules set by the government; they can’t just charge whatever they want, whenever they want. But airports can use rates and charges to manage their own airfields and provide incentives to reduce congestion.
This just makes sense, but for some reason the airline industry took the DOT to court over this matter. The arguments were made back in October, but the decision just came out last week. I’m an old soccer player: if this opinion was a World Cup match it would not have been a 1-nil win, but a 4-nil win. Airports, the DOT – AND common sense – won on all counts. But really, this was not a win for airports so much as it was a win for passengers. And, in the long run, I think a win for airlines too, though they don’t think so right now.
Also, late last week two of our staff and I visited the airports in Newport News, Virginia and in Norfolk, Virginia. These are both well-run, well-managed airports that provide high levels of service to their communities and to their airlines. Both have extensive low fare service and offer beautiful facilities. Both have plans for the future – and leaders in place that can make them happen. It was really great to have a chance to see their work first hand and to spend some time with them. The best part of this job, I think, is the time I get to spend at airports with our members around the country, in Canada, and around the world.
A final note: When you get to be a certain age, you look back on life and there are certain voices that stick out; voices that serve almost as the narrators of your life. One such voice for me was Bob Sheppard, longtime public address announcer for the Yankees and (football) Giants who died the other day at age 99. I bet I saw several dozen Yankees games in the old Yankee Stadium when I was a kid (I mean the pre-1976 Yankee Stadium, that thing they tore down a year or so ago was NOT the old Yankee Stadium, though I did see some games there too). I know I saw several dozen Giants football games over the years, at Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl and Giants Stadium. The constant was Bob Sheppard. I am old enough to have heard him, in person, announce Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. I heard him announce Joe DiMaggio, in person, at several Old Timers Games. I heard him say “pass by (Y.A.) Tittle” and “tackle by (Lawrence) Taylor.” And there are so many other great names in both sports I heard him announce over so many years, it would take me an hour to list them all. It is a voice I will never forget (and he looked a little like my late father-in-law too, which added to the effect for me). Bob Sheppard. RIP.