immediate release --July 1, 1999.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699
Organizes Support for Loosening
Airport "Slot" Restrictions
state attorneys general join in appeal to U.S. Senate. "This is crucial
for new and low-cost airlines, lower air fares, and economic vitality
in Iowa," Miller says.
Attorney General Tom Miller organized an appeal today by the attorneys
general of twenty eight states and Puerto Rico asking the U.S. Senate
to loosen "slot" controls that limit the number of takeoffs
and landings at certain airports. The letter strongly supported an amendment
on slots offered by Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley.
Current slot controls
have an anti-competitive impact that pose "significant barriers to
entry for new-entrant airlines and barriers to expansion for low-cost
airlines," the letter says.
"This is another
crucial battle in our efforts to restore competition and fairness in airline
pricing," Miller said. "It is crucial for low-cost airlines,
new airlines, lower air fares, and economic vitality in Iowa."
Miller took the lead
in martialing the nationwide attorneys general support for loosening slot
restrictions -- contacting airlines, answering questions, circulating
the letter, recruiting signers, and working with the offices of Sen. Tom
Harkin, Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate
The Senate is slated
to take up the "Air Transportation Improvement Act" sometime
after the July 4 recess; Miller organized attorneys general support for
the bill and the amendment by Senators Harkin and Grassley.
amendment is crucial," Miller said.
With the Harkin/Grassley
amendment, the attorneys general wrote, the bill "would phase out
the slot system in a way that promises to benefit small and medium-size
airports around the nation." Slot controls would be adjusted at O'Hare
airport in Chicago and LaGuardia and Kennedy airports in NY under the
measure. The changes would benefit new-entrant and low-cost carriers,
and airlines that fly some smaller aircraft. The slot system would be
phased out entirely in five years.
"It is our view
that doing nothing in today's environment is not an acceptable alternative
given the importance of air transportation to all of our communities,"
the letter said.
and leisure travelers, this guarantees new competition which translates
into affordable air fares, improved access, and better service. For our
communities it offers greater opportunity for economic development."
Miller noted that
Iowa air fares are among the highest in the nation, and that the situation
presents a serious challenge to economic growth and development.
The attorney generals'
letter notes that 98 per cent of current slots are held by the major airlines,
and that even foreign carriers have more slots than domestic new-entrant
or low-cost airlines.
is no practical way for new carriers to compete in these crucial markets,"
the letter says. "It is difficult to imagine that an airline serving
the Midwest, the South, or the East could compete effectively in the market
without access to slot-controlled airports. These controls are regulatory
relics and they pose a serious impediment to an open, fair, and competitive
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