- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The cost of friendlier skies It’s clear that passengers are fed up with the state of air travel. Long lines, endless delays and crowding greet them every step of the way. As noted in “Delays and the FAA,” (Editorial, Saturday) our air transportation system is stretched to the breaking point. Unless we act now, it’s only going to get worse. The Federal Aviation Administration has estimated that the number of annual air passengers will jump to 1 billion by 2015.

There has been a lot of debate around the potential benefits of a new “next-gen” air-traffic control system. Ironically, this debate on funding technology seems to lose sight of one critical point: Technology to guide aircraft from point A to point B will have little impact if there isn’t sufficient infrastructure on the ground.

Airports estimate they will need to invest $87.4 billion over the next five years to build runways and terminals to meet surging passenger demand for air travel. To help fund this massive investment, Congress has proposed a modest increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) that is collected from travelers. PFCs — by law — fund projects that improve airport infrastructure and promote competition. Unlike the fees airlines charge (from paper tickets to curbside check-in to bag of chips) PFCs will deliver real benefits to future passengers.

Without more runways and larger terminals, airports literally will become choke points, and our aviation system will grind to a halt.

GREG PRINCIPATO

President

Airports Council International

North America

Washington

War and peace

Chuck Woolery, in discussing the Iraq war, calls for “an enforceable global system of government … that can … protect human rights and effectively eliminate war as a means of solving problems” (“Global rule of law, not law of force,” Letters, Sunday).

Well, how very peachy — if all nations would just agree to abide by it. The key word is enforceable. When a country doesn’t wish to submit itself to this global system (think Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or many African countries — and, I hope, the United States) what shall be done? Unless alternatives can be created (let’s all try to envision an effective United Nations) we’re pretty much left with war. You can’t spell enforceable without “force” and that’s also known as war.

No global system can exist as long as countries operate differently, which they’ve been doing for a while.

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