Departing FAA head warns of delays ahead
WASHINGTON -- Fewer flights and passengers since Sept. 11 have meant fewer airplane delays. But the skies could become less friendly, the outgoing head of the Federal Aviation Administration says, unless the government acts now, ahead of the expected increase in fliers.
"We know those numbers are going to come back," said Jane Garvey, whose five-year term as FAA administrator ends Sunday. "We want to be ready for them. Those passengers are coming."
To meet that demand, Garvey said her successor should continue efforts to install new technology to track planes, keep working with airlines on scheduling and help airports build new runways.
President Bush's choice to replace Garvey is the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Marion Blakey. She awaits Senate confirmation.
Looking back, Garvey said there was nothing the FAA could have done differently to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks.
During the first six months of 2002, the major airlines carried 258.6 million passengers, down 11.4 percent from the 291.8 million they carried during the same period a year earlier, according to the Air Transport Association, the airlines' trade group.
Besides fewer passengers, there have been fewer flights. The number of operations between January and June dropped from 3.1 million in 2001 to 2.6 million in 2002.