The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday approved a measure requiring airlines to limit tarmac delays to three hours before passengers are allowed to deplane. D.J. Gribbin, a former Transportation Department official, says the rule will be easier to apply at some airports than others, and not all passengers will be happy when a flight returns to the gate. "The best interest is getting the passenger to the destination as quickly as possible," he says.
A Virginia company has expressed interest in setting up paid security lines at major airports around the U.S.. However, improved procedures may prevent the initiative from ever getting off the ground at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport outside Atlanta. FLO Corp. managing partner Fred Fischer says his company seeks to cash in on the Registered Traveler program that allows pre-cleared fliers to zip through the airport check-in process. However, HJIA manager general manager Ben DeCosta doesn't see a need at his facility.
Vigilant Solutions has canceled its preferred traveler program at Jacksonville International Airport that allowed members access to shorter security lines used by airline and airport personnel. The company had an agreement with Verified Identity Pass Inc., parent company of airport security lane operator Clear, under which the two companies honored each other's cards. However, Clear announced its closure last month.
Aviation officials in western Pennsylvania are already planning for airspace restrictions and logistical problems when up to 60 government aircraft bring world leaders to Pittsburgh for September's G-20 summit. Security will be the top priority, but there are also more mundane concerns, such as parking spaces for multiple jets the size of Air Force One. Following deep capacity cuts at Pittsburgh International Airport, commercial traffic should be relatively unaffected. "Given the level of traffic in Pittsburgh, I can't imagine any disruption to existing traffic," says a spokesman for the Air Transport Association. "That's not to say there won't be holds put on flights when a dignitary is coming in, but it's not going to have a ripple effect that will cause any significant disruption."
Under new TSA rules published Tuesday, the same penalty guidelines will apply to all aviation industries, including surface transportation parties and workers with Transportation Worker Identification Credentials. The rules were ordered by Congress last year as part of legislation to implement all recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The rules take effect Aug. 20, and TSA will accept comments until Sept. 21.