< Back to S. 1968 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of the Air Service Restoration Act

This bill was introduced on April 22, 1998, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Apr 22, 1998 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

S 1968 IS

105th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 1968

To amend title 49, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to implement a pilot program to improve access to the national transportation system for small communities, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 22, 1998

Mr. FORD (for himself, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. HOLLINGS, and Mr. HARKIN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


A BILL

To amend title 49, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to implement a pilot program to improve access to the national transportation system for small communities, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Air Service Restoration Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds that--

      (1) a national transportation system providing safe, high quality service to all areas of the United States is essential to interstate commerce and the economic well-being of cities and towns throughout the United States;

      (2) taxpayers throughout the United States have supported and helped to fund the United States aviation infrastructure and have a right to expect that aviation services will be provided in an equitable and fair manner to every region of the country;

      (3) some communities have not benefited from airline deregulation and access to essential airports and air services has been limited;

      (4) air service to a number of small communities has suffered since deregulation;

      (5) studies by the Department of Transportation have documented that, since the airline industry was deregulated in 1978--

        (A) 34 small communities have lost service and many small communities have had jet aircraft service replaced by turboprop aircraft service;

        (B) out of a total of 320 small communities, the number of small communities being

served by major air carriers declined from 213 in 1978 to 33 in 1995;

        (C) the number of small communities receiving service to only one major hub airport increased from 79 to 1978 to 134 in 1995; and

        (D) the number of small communities receiving multiple-carrier service decreased from 136 in 1978 to 122 in 1995; and

      (6) improving air service to small and medium-sized communities that have not benefited from fare reductions and improved service since deregulation will likely entail a range of Federal, State, regional, local, and private sector initiatives.

SEC. 3. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to facilitate, through a pilot program, incentives and projects that will help communities to improve their access to the essential airport facilities of the national air transportation system through public-private partnerships and to identify and establish ways to overcome the unique policy, economic, geographic, and marketplace factors that may inhibit the availability of quality, affordable air service to small communities.

SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF SMALL COMMUNITY AVIATION DEVELOPMENT.

    Section 102 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

    ‘(g) Small Community Air Service Development Office-

      ‘(1) ESTABLISHMENT- The Secretary shall establish within the Department of Transportation an Office of Aviation Development. The Office shall be headed by a Director, designated by the Secretary.

      ‘(2) FUNCTIONS- The Director shall--

        ‘(A) function as a facilitator between small communities and air carriers;

        ‘(B) carry out section 41743 of this title;

        ‘(C) carry out the airline service restoration program under subchapter III of chapter 417 of this title;

        ‘(D) ensure that the Bureau of Transportation Statistics collects data on passenger information to assess the service needs of small communities;

        ‘(E) work with and coordinate efforts with other Federal, State, and local agencies to increase the viability of service to small communities and the creation of aviation development zones; and

        ‘(F) provide policy recommendations to the Secretary and the Congress that will ensure that small communities have access to quality, affordable air transportation services.

      ‘(3) REPORTS- The Director shall provide an annual report to the Secretary and the Congress be ginning in 1999 that--

        ‘(A) analyzes the availability of air transportation services in small communities, including, but not limited to, an assessment of the air fares charged for air transportation services in small communities compared to air fares charged for air transportation services in larger metropolitan areas and an assessment of the levels of service, measured by types of aircraft used, the availability of seats, and scheduling of flights provided to small communities;

        ‘(B) identifies the policy, economic, geographic and marketplace factors that inhibit the availability of quality, affordable air transportation services to small communities; and

        ‘(C) provides policy recommendations to address the policy, economic, geographic, and marketplace factors inhibiting the availability of quality, affordable air transportation services to small communities.’.

SEC. 5. COMMUNITY-CARRIER AIR SERVICE PROGRAM.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Subchapter II of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

‘Sec. 41743. Air service program for small communities

    ‘(a) COMMUNITIES PROGRAM- Under advisory guidelines prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation, a small community or a consortia of small communities or a State may develop an assessment of its air service requirements, in such form as the Director of the Office of Aviation Development may require, and submit the assessment and service proposal to the Office.

    ‘(b) SELECTION OF PARTICIPANTS- In selecting community programs for participation in the communities program under subsection (a), the Director shall apply criteria, including geographical diversity and the presentation of unique circumstances, that will demonstrate the feasibility of the program.

    ‘(c) CARRIERS PROGRAM- The Director shall invite part 121 air carriers and regional/commuter carriers (as such terms are defined in section 41715(d) of this title) to offer service proposals in response to, or in conjunction with, community aircraft assessments submitted to

the office under subsection (a). A service proposal under this paragraph shall include--

      ‘(1) an assessment of potential daily passenger traffic, revenues, and costs necessary for the carrier to offer the service;

      ‘(2) a forecast of the minimum percentage of that traffic the carrier would require the community to garner in order for the carrier to start up and maintain the service; and

      ‘(3) the costs and benefits of providing jet service by regional or other jet aircraft.

    ‘(d) OFFICE SUPPORT FUNCTION- The Director shall work with small communities and air carriers, taking into account their proposals and needs, to facilitate the initiation of service. The Director--

      ‘(1) may work with communities to develop innovative means and incentives for the initiation of service;

      ‘(2) may obligate funds available to carry out this subchapter to make up the difference between the carrier’s forecast and the community’s ability to generate the necessary percentage of traffic;

      ‘(3) shall continue to work with both the carriers and the communities to develop a combination of community incentives and carrier service levels that--

        ‘(A) are acceptable to communities and carriers; and

        ‘(B) do not conflict with other Federal or State programs to facilitate air transportation to the communities;

      ‘(4) may designate an airport in the program as an Air Service Development Zone and work with the community on means to attract business to the area surrounding the airport, to develop land use options for the area, and provide data, working with the Department of Commerce and other agencies; and

      ‘(5) may take such other action under subchapter III of this chapter as may be appropriate.

    ‘(e) Limitations-

      ‘(1) COMMUNITY SUPPORT- The Director may not provide financial assistance under subsection (c)(2) to any community unless the Director determines that--

        ‘(A) a public-private partnership exists at the community level to carry out the community’s proposal;

        ‘(B) the community will make a substantial financial contribution that is appropriate for that community’s resources;

        ‘(C) the community has established an open process for soliciting air service proposals; and

        ‘(D) the community will accord similar benefits to air carriers that are similarly situated.

      ‘(2) AMOUNT- The Director may not provide financial assistance under subsection (d)(2) to any community in excess of the lesser of--

        ‘(A) up to 75 percent of the financial contribution made by the community; or

        ‘(B) $500,000 per year.

    ‘(f) REPORT- The Director shall report through the Secretary to the Congress annually on the progress made under this section during the preceding year in expanding commercial aviation service to smaller communities.’.

    (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- The chapter analysis for chapter 417 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 41742 the following:

      ‘41743. Air service program for small communities.’.

    (c) WAIVER OF LOCAL CONTRIBUTION- Section 41736(b) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (4) the following:

    ‘Paragraph (4) does not apply to any community approved for service under this section during the period beginning October 1, 1991, and ending December 31, 1997.’.

SEC. 6. AIRLINE SERVICE RESTORATION PILOT PROGRAM.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

‘SUBCHAPTER III--AIRLINE SERVICE RESTORATION

      ‘41761. Pilot program project authority.

      ‘41762. Assistance to communities for service.

      ‘41763. Additional authority.

      ‘41764. Air traffic control services pilot program.

‘Sec. 41761. Pilot program project authority

    ‘(a) IN GENERAL- The Director of the Office of Aviation Development shall establish a pilot program--

      ‘(1) to assist communities and States with inadequate access to the national transportation system to improve their access to that system; and

      ‘(2) to facilitate better link-ups to support the improved access.

    ‘(b) PROJECT AUTHORITY- Under the pilot program established pursuant to subsection (a), the Director may--

      ‘(1) provide financial assistance by way of grants to small communities under section 41743; and

      ‘(2) take such other action as may be appropriate.

    ‘(c) OTHER ACTION- Under the pilot program established pursuant to subsection (a), the Director may facilitate service by--

      ‘(1) working with airports and air carriers to ensure that appropriate facilities are made available at essential airports;

      ‘(2) requiring interline or joint-fare agreements between air carriers for domestic United States service if necessary to facilitate access to essential facilities for participants in the program subject to the right of a carrier being required to enter into such agreements to impose reasonable safety, service, and other obligations on the potential partner;

      ‘(3) collecting data on air carrier service to small communities; and

      ‘(4) providing policy recommendations to the Secretary to stimulate air service and competition to small communities.

‘Sec. 41762. Assistance to communities for service

    ‘(a) IN GENERAL- Financial assistance provided under section 41743 during any fiscal year as part of the pilot program established under section 41761(a) shall be implemented for not more than--

      (1) 4 communities within any State at any given time; and

      (2) 40 communities in the entire program at any time.

    For purposes of this subsection, a consortium of communities shall be treated as a single community.

    ‘(b) ELIGIBILITY- In order to participate in a pilot project under this subchapter, a State, community, or group of communities shall apply to the Secretary in such form and at such time, and shall supply such information, as the Secretary may require, and shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary that--

      ‘(1) the applicant has an identifiable need for access, or improved access, to the national air transportation system that would benefit the public;

      ‘(2) the pilot project will provide material benefits to a broad section of the travelling public, businesses, educational institutions, and other enterprises whose access to the national air transportation system is limited;

      ‘(3) the pilot project will not impede competition; and

      ‘(4) the applicant has established, or will establish, public-private partnerships in connection with the pilot project to facilitate service to the public.

    ‘(c) COORDINATION WITH SUBCHAPTER II- The Secretary shall carry out this subchapter in such a manner

as to complement action taken under subchapter II of this chapter. To the extent the Secretary determines to be appropriate, the Secretary may adopt criteria for implementation of this subchapter that are the same as, or similar to, the criteria developed under subchapter II for determining which airports are eligible under that subchapter. The Secretary shall also, to the extent possible, provide incentives where no direct, viable, and feasible alternative service exists, taking into account geographical diversity and appropriate market definitions.

    ‘(d) MAXIMIZATION OF PARTICIPATION- The Secretary shall structure the program established pursuant to section 41761(a) in a way designed to--

      ‘(1) permit the participation of the maximum feasible number of communities and States over a 5-year period by limiting the number of years of participation or otherwise; and

      ‘(2) obtain the greatest possible leverage from the financial resources available to the Secretary and the applicant by--

        ‘(A) progressively decreasing, on a project-by-project basis, any Federal financial incentives provided under this chapter over the 5-year period; and

        ‘(B) terminating as early as feasible Federal financial incentives for any project determined by the Secretary after its implementation to be--

          ‘(i) viable without further support under this subchapter; or

          ‘(ii) failing to meet the purposes of this chapter or criteria established by the Secretary under the pilot program.

    ‘(e) SUCCESS BONUS- If Federal financial incentives to a community are terminated under subsection (d)(2)(B) because of the success of the program in that community, then that community may receive a one-time incentive grant to ensure the continued success of that program.

    ‘(f) Program To Terminate in 5 YEARS- No new financial assistance may be provided under this subchapter for any fiscal year beginning more than 5 years after the date of enactment of the Air Service Restoration Act.

‘Sec. 41763. Additional authority

    ‘In carrying out this chapter, the Secretary--

      ‘(1) may provide assistance to States and communities in the design and application phase of any

project under this chapter, and oversee the implementation of any such project;

      ‘(2) may assist States and communities in putting together projects under this chapter to utilize private sector resources, other Federal resources, or a combination of public and private resources;

      ‘(3) may accord priority to service by jet air-craft;

      ‘(4) take such action as may be necessary to ensure that financial resources, facilities, and administrative arrangements made under this chapter are used to carry out the purposes of the Air Service Restoration Act; and

      ‘(5) shall work with the Federal Aviation Administration on airport and air traffic control needs of communities in program.

Sec. 41764. Air traffic control services pilot program

    ‘(a) IN GENERAL- To further facilitate the use of, and improve the safety at, small airports, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall establish a pilot program to contract for Level I air traffic control at 20 facilities not eligible for participation in the Federal Contract Tower Program.

    ‘(b) PROGRAM COMPONENTS- In carrying out the pilot program established under subsection (a), the Administrator may--

      ‘(1) utilize current, actual, site-specific data, forecast estimates, or airport system plan data provided by a facility owner or operator;

      ‘(2) take into consideration unique aviation safety, weather, strategic national interest, disaster relief, medical and other emergency management relief services, status of regional airline service, and related factors at the facility;

      ‘(3) approve for participation any facility willing to fund a pro rata share of the operating costs used by the Federal Aviation Administration to calculate, and, as necessary, a 1:1 benefit-to-cost ratio, as required for eligibility under the Federal Contract Tower Program; and

      ‘(4) approve for participation any facility willing to fund a pro rata share of construction used by the Federal Aviation Administration to calculate, and, as necessary, a 1:1 benefit-to-cost ratio, as required for eligibility under the Federal Contract Tower Program.

    ‘(c) REPORT- One year before the pilot program established under subsection (a) terminates, the Administrator shall report to the Congress on the effectiveness of the program, with particular emphasis on the safety and economic benefits provided to program participants and the national air transportation system.’.

    (b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The chapter analysis for chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

‘SUBCHAPTER III--AIRLINE SERVICE RESTORATION

      ‘41761. Pilot programs.

      ‘41762. Financial assistance to States.

      ‘41763. Additional authority.

      ‘41764. Air traffic control services pilot program.’.

SEC. 7. FUNDING AUTHORITY.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Transportation may obligate not more than $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 1999 through 2002 to carry out subchapter III of chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, out of funds otherwise available for aviation programs other than funds appropriated, obligated, or made available to carry out subchapter II of such chapter.

    (b) SUCCESS BONUS- If the Secretary determines that the program carried out under such subchapter III is successful in providing enhanced air carrier service to small communities, then the Secretary may obligate an additional amount, not in excess of $5,000,000, for each of fiscal years 2001 and 2002 to carry out that subchapter out of such funds.

SEC. 8. JOINT FARES AND INTERLINE AGREEMENTS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Subchapter I of chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

‘Sec. 41716. Joint fares and interline agreements for domestic transportation

    ‘(a) IN GENERAL- In order to more effectively facilitate service to small communities, the Secretary of Transportation may, if necessary, require an air carrier that serves an essential airport facility in the United States and an air carrier that offers service in an under-served market within the United States to enter into an agreement with a qualifying air carrier that files a request with the Secretary, in such form and manner and at such time as the Secretary may require.

    ‘(b) SECRETARY MAY COMPEL JOINT FARE STRUCTURE- If the Secretary determines that it is necessary in order to facilitate service to small communities, the Secretary may require any air carrier to enter into a joint-fare or interline agreement with any qualifying air carrier that serves an under-served market to facilitate air transportation.

    ‘(c) APPLICATION LIMITED TO SERVICE TO COMMUNITIES RECEIVING DOT ASSISTANCE- The Secretary may not require an air carrier to enter into an agreement

under subsection (a) or (b) except to the extent determined by the Secretary to be necessary to the provision of air service to a community receiving financial assistance under section 41761. Nothing in this section provides authority for the Secretary to establish air fares for service to which this section applies.

    ‘(d) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this section--

      ‘(1) QUALIFYING AIR CARRIER- The term ‘qualifying air carrier’ means an air carrier that operates pursuant to a certificate of public convenience and necessity under chapter 411 of this title.

      ‘(2) UNDER-SERVED MARKET- The term ‘under-served market’ means a commercial service airport that is a nonhub airport (as defined in section 41731(4) of this title), a small hub airport (as defined in section 41731(5) of this title), or an airport that is smaller than a nonhub or small hub airport.

      ‘(3) ESSENTIAL AIRPORT FACILITY- The term ‘essential airport facility’ means a hub airport (as defined in section 41731(a)(3) of this title).’.

    (b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The chapter analysis for chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 41715 the following:

      ‘41716. Joint fares and interline agreements for domestic transportation.’.

SEC. 9. REVITALIZATION OF AIR SERVICE TO RURAL AREAS.

    Section 40101(a) of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

      ‘(16) ensuring that consumers in all regions of the United States, including those in small communities and rural and remote areas, have access to affordable, regularly scheduled air service.

      ‘(17) ensuring that any slots given to air carriers to provide small community air service are withdrawn if the carrier fails to provide the service.’.

SEC. 10. MARKETING PRACTICES.

    Section 41712 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by--

      (1) inserting ‘(a) IN GENERAL- ’ before ‘On’; and

      (2) adding at the end thereof the following:

    ‘(b) MARKETING PRACTICES THAT ADVERSELY AFFECT SERVICE TO SMALL OR MEDIUM COMMUNITIES- Within 180 days after the date of enactment of the Air Service Restoration Act, the Secretary shall review the marketing practices of air carriers that may inhibit the availability of quality, affordable air transportation services to small and medium-sized communities, including--

      ‘(1) marketing arrangements between airlines and travel agents;

      ‘(2) code-sharing partnerships;

      ‘(3) computer reservation system displays;

      ‘(4) gate arrangements at airports; and

      ‘(5) any other marketing practice that may have the same effect.

    ‘(c) REGULATIONS- If the Secretary finds, after conducting the review required by subsection (b), that marketing practices inhibit the availability of such service to such communities, then, after public notice and an opportunity for a hearing, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations that address the problem.’.