Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles World Airports CEO Deborah Flint said she was encouraged by President Donald Trump’s response at a White House meeting of airline CEOs and airport executives Thursday she attended.

“We are heartened by the president’s support of building airport infrastructure as a key component of improving the air traveler experience, rebuilding our nation, growing our economy and creating jobs,” Flint said.

Los Angeles will continue to play a leading role in the discussion of moving forward.”

Industry officials discussed improving the air travel experience, airport infrastructure needs, aviation security, air service, and NextGen, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Control Modernization Plan.

Flint called for more federal resources for Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection operations at U.S. airports, which face tremendous pressure to manage increasing passenger volumes while improving the customer experience.

The most frustrating and high-profile elements of the air travel experience today are the TSA’s passenger security screening process and the CBP’s international arrivals clearance process,” Flint said.

Flint also said that instead of diverting a significant portion of the TSA 9/11 passenger security fee and the CBP immigration and customs user fees to subsidize other federal programs, the fees should be dedicated to hiring more officers and establishing a more effective marketing program for TSA PreCheck and other Trusted Traveler programs to increase participation among passengers and reduce wait times.

The airport-airline group recommended eliminating the federal cap on passenger facility charges, the local user fee paid by air travelers and collected by airlines on behalf of the airports to fund capacity, safety, security, construction and noise-mitigation projects.

The current $450 cap per enplaned passenger has not been adjusted in 17 years.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary C. Kelly told Trump the first priority for helping airlines would be to modernize the air traffic control system,” noting that money spent on the system has not helped improve it in the past.

Said Trump: “I hear we’re spending billions and billions of dollars, it’s a system totally out of whack.”

Trump asked why airlines had allowed the government to invest in a faulty system. Kelly told him airlines are not “in control” of those decisions.

—City News Service

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