On September 4, Popular Mechanics took a look at the candidates’ aviation policies. Here are some highlights:
On user fees:
While the [FAA reauthorization] bill was still in committee, McCain voted against an amendment to eliminate the new $25-per-flight user fee on general aviation. Since the legislation never made it to the full senate, it isn’t known how Obama would have voted. Interestingly, McCain’s vice-presidential pick, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, is a strong supporter of general aviation interests—not surprising in a state heavily dependent on private flying. Last year Palin signed a resolution opposing new general aviation fees.
On air traffic control:
Obama favors hiring more air traffic controllers and has sponsored legislation to force the FAA to return to the bargaining table with the controllers, who have been without a contract for nearly two years even as many older controllers retire. In a statement outlining his transportation policies, Obama says he will direct the FAA to “restore morale and improve working conditions and operations at the agency.” McCain has indicated he might favor a move to privatize ATC, which has occurred in Great Britain and a number of other industrialized nations.
On airline regulation:
McCain has a longer track record in the Senate than Obama, and during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee he seized briefly on airline “passenger rights” issues, which would have imposed a welter of new regulations designed to improve customer service and reduce delays. He later backed off when the airlines promised to police themselves; he has not mentioned the subject during this campaign.
Obama has not taken a formal stand on economic regulation of the airlines, but some observers expect a Democratic administration to be more sympathetic to calls for government intervention.