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Transportation update: Thursday, January 24, 2008

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Published: January 24, 2008
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Congress criticized in airline delays
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters criticized Congress for its inability to pass an aviation funding bill the Bush administration says will help ease airline delays.

Airline arrival rates through November were the second-worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, the Transportation Department said earlier this month. President Bush has demanded action to avoid another summer of record delays, but there is little consensus among airlines, airport operators, Congress and the administration on what the action should be.

"I am a little tired of all the noise from Capitol Hill about how bad aviation delays are when they are sitting on the sidelines in Washington while passengers sit waiting in airports and on taxiways across the country,” Peters said in a speech for the Aero Club, an aerospace industry forum.

In September, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would have increased the jet fuel tax for noncommercial planes, the aviation gasoline tax and the cap on fees airports charge passengers for capital improvements.

But the White House and large commercial carriers favor a closer alignment of Federal Aviation Administration revenue with its business costs. Higher taxes and fees linked to system usage would be used to pay for upgrades to the air traffic control system and other aviation programs.

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