PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW PUBLIC-PRIVATE
INITIATIVE TO REDUCE WEATHER-RELATED AIR TRAVEL DELAYS
March 10, 2000
President Clinton, joined by the heads of several airlines and unions,
today will announce the Spring 2000 Initiative, a collaborative effort between
the Federal Aviation Administration, airlines and others to reduce air travel
delays due to severe weather while maintaining the highest measure of safety.
Last year, thunderstorms contributed to record numbers of flight delays and
cancellations, particularly from April through August. The FAA and the airlines
began working together last Fall to develop a new approach to managing air
traffic control operations during severe weather conditions. The new
initiative, which begins March 12 and will be fully phased in by April 1, will
allow the FAA and the airlines to collaborate far more closely to minimize
disruptions. It also will feature a new Web site for air travelers to get
general information about what effect weather will have on flight schedules.
The President also will direct the FAA to develop a plan within 45 days for
achieving broader reform of the air traffic control system, to reduce delays
without sacrificing safety.
SPRING 2000 INITIATIVE WILL REDUCE TRAVELERS' TIME ON THE
Today the President will announce the Spring 2000 Initiative to enable
airlines to operate more flights with fewer delays during severe weather,
without compromising safety. The initiative has four important features: (1)
improved communication between FAA and the airlines, (2) better use of
available air space, (3) new technology and tools, and (4) a new website for
- Improved FAA/Airline Communication: The FAA's high-tech
command center in Herndon, Virginia, will have expanded authority to develop
national plans, in collaboration with the airlines, for routing planes around
problem areas. Using standardized weather forecasts, FAA and airline staff will
hold teleconferences throughout the day to address conditions two to six hours
into the future.
- Better Use of Available Air Space: The Department of Defense is
working with the FAA to allow use of military airspace off the East Coast to
help speed traffic flows in poor weather. The FAA and the airlines have agreed
to make better use of lower-level airspace to enable the air traffic control
system to handle more traffic at peak travel times. They also have developed a
playbook of ready-made alternate routes to take aircraft around storm activity.
- New Technology: For the first time, the FAA and the airlines
will all use the same weather information -- a state-of-the-art forecast tool
provided by the National Weather Service -- to decide how to deal with storms.
An FAA website will provide airline dispatchers across the country with
real-time information on the national plan. A shared database of current flight
information will allow the FAA and airlines to collaborate on plans and
- Website for Travelers: Starting on April 3, the FAA will make
available to the general public a website (fly.faa.gov) designed to provide
up-to-the-minute information on weather conditions and significant disruptions
in the air traffic control system. Although passengers will need to contact
their airline for information on specific flights, the Web site will keep
passengers better informed, so that they can adapt their travel plans.
PRESIDENT WILL ALSO ASK FAA FOR PLAN ON BROADER REFORM OF THE AIR
TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM. Although the Spring 2000 Initiative represents an
important step, much more needs to be done to make the FAA's air traffic
control system as efficient as it is safe. Toward that end, the President today
asked the FAA to come back to him in 45 days with a plan for achieving broader
reform of the air traffic control (ATC) system. He identified four guiding
Safety must not be compromised: The U.S. has the
safest air traffic control system in the world, and we should continue to make
safety our highest priority.
Accommodate rapidly growing passenger demand: By
2010, the number of domestic passengers will grow by an estimated 43 percent.
To get 850 million passengers a year to their destinations on time, our ATC
system must operate at the technological and managerial frontier.
The air traffic control system should operate more like a
business: Many other countries run their ATC systems more like
businesses, and we need to do the same. Above all, this means focusing the
management of ATC on performance and the needs of customers -- e.g., by linking
capital investment decisions to airline demand for services. In addition,
commercial users should pay for ATC services based on the cost of those
Protect jobs and rural economic development: ATC
reform must not come at the expense of people whose livelihood depends on it,
including air traffic controllers and the general aviation community. And it
should enhance, not diminish, economic development of rural areas.