I wanted to share some brief information on a variety of important topics to keep you up to date on the latest when it comes to government and business travel.
U.S. Government Shutdown: GBTA Warns Business Travel is High Risk Bargaining Chip. In interviews with Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other leading media, Mike McCormick warned of lost business opportunities, lost revenue and lost productivity, “America’s economy can’t grow without a reliable system supporting business travel. U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach more than $273 billion this year, finally surpassing pre-recession levels. But a government shutdown will have rippling effects through the economy and severely impact the business travel industry. Every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country.” GBTA Press Release
GBTA-TSA Partnership on NEW PreCheck Application Process: Kudos to the Northern Virginia, Virginia, Ohio Valley and New York City chapters for their collaboration with TSA on the October opening of first two PreCheck application centers at Dulles International Airport/Northern VA and the Indianapolis International Airport. TSA made presentations at the VBTA Education Day and an NYCBTA event in late September, and is scheduling education/media opportunities with other chapters as well. GBTA is working closely with the PreCheck offices at TSA headquarters to ensure local chapters are engaged in the opening of additional PreCheck application centers. Additional centers will open this fall. Under the NEW process, applicants go to the centers to submit fingerprints, a short application and an $85 fee. Once the background check is complete, applicants receive PreCheck membership for five years. Fast and secure checkpoint screening is the answer to airport delays and missed flights. Learn more about the application process.
GBTA Speaks: NextGen is Essential. In a Washington, D.C. event hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association, and well attended by media and key congressional staff, Mike McCormick stressed the importance of air traffic control modernization – NextGen – for efficient, safe air travel for busy business travelers, saying “America’s businesses send their employees on more than seven million flights each month. Efficient, safe air travel enables invaluable face-to-face meetings with clients and partners, ensuring businesses can compete effectively in the global marketplace. NextGen is essential to reduce flight delays and system slowdowns that disrupt air travel and business opportunities, and slow economic growth.” GBTA and its members have long supported air traffic control modernization, including sufficient funding for continued NextGen implementation despite threatened budget cuts. Congratulations to the NYCBTA for its excellent op-ed in Crain’s New York strongly supporting NextGen, particularly improvements at crowded New York area airports to eliminate bottlenecks during peak flight periods.
FAA Report on PEDs: After more than a year, a 28-member industry-government advisory committee sent a report to the FAA recommending procedures that airlines can implement to ensure increased, safe use of PEDs during flight. Although the report remains confidential and likely won’t be released soon due to the Government shutdown, media reports that the procedures would allow passengers to use e-readers, iPods and laptops for some purposes at altitudes below 10,000 feet, but cell phone calls and Internet use remain prohibited. No information on if or when FAA will act on the recommendations. More to come – stay tuned.
GBTA-Car Rental Tax Coalition: GBTA met with the lead sponsor of the bill to prohibit additional car rental taxes at the state and local level, and continues to work with a diverse coalition to gain sponsors for the bill. Although it’s difficult to predict when another hearing on the bill will be set or if the bill will come up for a vote, GBTA members should urge their representatives to support this common sense approach to reduce unnecessary travel taxes that don’t benefit travelers in any way, but increase travel costs significantly. Take Action.
Reducing USG Travel Spend: With all Congress is trying to accomplish this fall, bills to reduce government travel spending even further are not moving through the legislative process. GBTA will continue to work with travel stakeholders to closely monitor these bills and take appropriate action. Although government agencies must implement management tools to spend travel dollars wisely, blunt budget cuts and severe travel restrictions are short sighted and reduce government effectiveness.
Aviation Emissions Taxes – Global Action: For two weeks in late September and early October, 191 governments come together to address aviation environmental issues at the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal. Among other proposals or “global market-based measures,” participants will consider development of a global trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions. Current thinking is that a global approach will be agreed upon by 2015 or 2016, with implementation in 2020. GBTA supports global approaches but continues to oppose unilateral tax schemes like the European Union emissions tax imposed, but later suspended for non EU airlines, on all international flights.