Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2008

222711714_a40f2721f3_b

An interesting item in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, my hometown newspaper:

FedEx issued its first Global Citizenship Report Wednesday, touting plans for big cuts in pollution by jets and delivery trucks. . . . On the environmental front, the company aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by FedEx Express jets by 20 percent within less than 12 years.

The article continues:

FedEx fuel consumption of about 1.5 billion gallons last year ranked behind the largest passenger airlines, which put more flights in the air. Fuel was 12.1 percent of the company’s total operating costs in fiscal 2008.

“We’re a large user of fuel, but we’re not the largest,” [sustainability director Mitch] Jackson said.

No, but according to an interview with CEO Fred Smith in the Wall Street Journal, it’s the second-largest user of energy in the world — after the U.S. military. See comment below.

To curb the appetite for oil, FedEx Express in 2005 set goals of a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by its jets and a 20 percent increase in fuel mileage for delivery vehicles.

The report showed that jet emissions have been reduced 3.7 percent on a pounds-per- available-ton-mile basis in three years, while vehicle fuel economy is already up 13.7 percent.

This article might lead you to think: “Good for FedEx. Look at the way they care about the environment. What an upright corporate citizen.” It’s good for the reader that at least one outlet has gotten the rest of the story. According to ATW Daily News:

Key to the increased efficiency will be the replacement of its 90 727Fs with at least 87 757-200 converted freighters by 2016. The 757s will reduce “fuel consumption up to 36% while providing 20% more payload capacity,” it said.

FedEx has been planning this fleet transition for years (with a focus on fuel and labor savings and increased medium haul capacity). How great for FedEx — they get environmental plaudits while doing exactly what they were doing all along. Unfortunately, this kind of reporting is par for the course at the CA, which years ago — through a series of redesigns and changes in editorial leadership — shifted away from serious reporting into local cheerleading, soft and fluffy features, and barely edited press releases.

In other news: FedEx has a blog! Welcome to the aviation blogosphere!

FedEx will do its part for cleaner environment [Commercial Appeal]
FedEx sets target to lower aircraft CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 [ATW Daily News]

[IMAGE]

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Where have I been?

I’ll admit it: I haven’t been posting much this month. That’s because (a) most of the news is waiting for Barack Obama’s key transportation personnel picks and (b) my energies are currently engrossed with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. What, you say? Basically, more than 100,000 people try to write a 50,000-word novel between November 1 and November 30. Why am I doing this? Eh, it’s an experience, and maybe I’ll like the story I have when I’m done. The funny thing is, I’m already over 21,000 words, and I’m actually having a lot of fun. I still don’t know where my characters are going, but they’ve already had some great adventures. (My protagonist? A sensitive, handsome, young, idealistic aviation policy blogger who lives in Washington, D.C. . . . OK, fine, so that bit’s not true.)

At any rate, I do actually have some aviation policy–related thoughts to share soon, so watch this space. And, like most of my readers, I’m eagerly awaiting transportation-related transition announcements. I’ll be with you fully again in December.

Read Full Post »

If you’re a regular reader of the Aviation Policy Blog (and I hope you are; the best way to keep up to date is to subscribe to my feed), you’re well aware of how aviation is playing out in the 2008 election (or the extent to which it isn’t). In today’s Wall Street Journal, “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney takes on what the next president will need to do. I commend this read to you. First, the stakes of inaction on aviation issues:

Last year, nearly one-quarter of all U.S. airline flights were delayed, and the average delay was 55 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Passengers lost 112 million hours of time spent waiting. . . . And that doesn’t count the delay already baked into airline schedules. On average, U.S. airline flights were scheduled 15 minutes longer in 2006 than in 1997, based on the same distances. . . . Delays cost airlines $8.1 billion in direct operating costs in 2007, mostly burning extra fuel and paying crews for the extra time. That’s more than the U.S. industry has ever earned in a year. . . . More than 1,600 flights last year sat for longer than three hours waiting to take off, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. More than 4.4 million bags were mishandled. Complaints about airline service were up 65% last year.

McCartney outlines several steps that the next president can take. He also underscores the urgency of making these changes now: “The time to fix it is now, when the economic downturn has given the system some slack. This is when it’s easiest to replace, repair and expand.” We didn’t do this during our last downturn, after 9/11, and it hurt badly in 2006-2007. So, what does he recommend?

  • Air traffic control modernization. “The current time-table for modernizing air-traffic control covers 20 years, and the history of the effort is filled with delays. What’s needed is a full-court press. He then quotes Marion Blakey on how viable ATC transformation is, but her five years at the helm of the FAA and in charge of NextGen are conveniently glossed over.
  • Split the FAA into two agencies. “Many industry watchers would like to see the FAA split into two parts: a safety regulator for airlines, airports and air-traffic controllers, and a separate air-traffic-control system run in a business-like manner by a not-for-profit entity, not government.” That includes this industry-watcher. “One major reason to split the FAA is that the agency today is both the safety regulator and the operator,” McCartney continues. “In air-traffic control, the FAA regulates itself, leading to potential conflicts of interest.” He cites Dorothy Robyn’s excellent paper this summer for the Brookings Institution’s excellent Hamilton Project. He also quotes former Continental chairman Gordon Bethune, who carries the flag for ATC privatization/commercialization: “Bethune . . . hopes the new president will push for ‘a quasi-government agency to build and operate a modern air-traffic-control system.’ Bond financing could be used for new equipment instead of asking Congress to pay for it year by year.”
  • Other issues. McCartney urges measures to make TSA screening less invasive and troublesome; passenger-bill-of-rights-type measures, a “better plan” to ease congestion at New York-area airports, “a Transportation Secretary with muscle to fix the problem, not prolong it,” and incentives for greener, cleaner aerospace R&D.

To McCartney’s memo, I would add the following items:

  • A new FAA administrator, hired from outside the agency, with respect from industry and labor. Labor-management relations at the agency are beyond toxic, and promoting current management (as Bush did when he nominated Robert Sturgell) is only going to inflame the situation. To the extent that Barack Obama has engaged in aviation issues, he has been entirely aligned with the air traffic controllers; he needs to demonstrate his independence by picking someone who will command the controllers’ respect and negotiate with them while still defending the prerogatives of the FAA’s “customers”–system users–and taxpayers.
  • A commitment to an alternative funding structure for the FAA. Ticket and fuel taxes are not enough. The FAA needs a user fee system. This will align use of the system with the cost of providing ATC services. The current administration has admirably pushed for user fees; perhaps, in an environment less rabidly partisan than that existing between Congress and the White House, we can see rapprochement on this crucial priority.

Commentators rightly say that thirty years out, we’re not going backward on airline deregulation. But will the next president take crucial steps in pursuing “Deregulation 2.0,” the critical public-sector overhaul that will make our aviation system more competitive, productive, and efficient for decades into the future? If the next president takes on established interests and pursues these reforms, future generations of fliers will thank him.

A Flier’s Plea to the New President [WSJ]

See also the LA Times and FlightBlogger guides to the politics of air travel.

Read Full Post »

Global deregulation? And more

  • IATA, the global airline trade group, wants “the industry to be freed from the shackles that prevent airlines being run as normal businesses. In particular, [it] wants an end to the archaic rules governing market access and the restrictions on foreign capital that limit the ability of airlines to raise equity from international capital markets and inhibit cross-border mergers.” [The Economist]
  • The EU’s “third package” of aviation regulations became law over the weekend. “The regulation lays down rules for the granting of operating licenses, control of airlines and market access. It also requires carriers to include all taxes and charges in published ticket prices and bans price discrimination based on place of residence.” [ATW Daily News]
  • James May, head of the U.S. airline lobby, says that including aviation in the EU’s emissions trading scheme is “contrary to international law,” and he calls for allowing airlines the profitability to reinvest in more fuel-efficient technology (hint, hint), air traffic control system upgrades, and government spending for alternative fuel development. [Aero-News.Net]
  • How can the FAA claim the ability to auction slots at New York-area airports? It can’t. [Aviation and Airport Development Law Blog 1, 2]
  • Did TSA tip off screeners about “random” inspections in advance? [USA Today]
  • Could the Boeing strike cause the aerospace giant to move future manufacturing facilities (or even its current ones) to right-to-work states? Such a move would erode Washington state’s industrial base. [Aero-News.Net]
  • Finally, a personal remembrance of Berlin’s now-closed Tempelhof Airport. [Jetwhine]

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts