Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Huntsville Municipal Airport (KUTS) Expansion Could Benefit Economy

HUNTSVILLE - Business is taking off in Huntsville

The municipal airport hopes an expansion will take it to new heights.

As a former commercial pilot, Mitch Inman knows the importance of air travel to the economy.

"If the managers can't get to their businesses, they're going to move them to where they can," Inman said.

Landing a big deal means corporate jets need to be able to land here

"We're currently at 5,000 feet and the plan was to add 1,000 additional feet to the runway."

That expansion is not going to cost taxpayers a thing...thanks to gas the airport sells.

"Part of that fuel also has a tax on it and that's how the federal government is paid which pays for the upgrade on the airport."

An extra thousand feet on the runway might not seem like very much to you and me but for corporate jets especially, it means safer travel and that could mean more business for Huntsville.

"If time is money, this is a time machine," said Ben Bius of his plane.

Bius is a business owner who helped bring Hobby Lobby to Huntsville, has seen first hand how a bigger airport would be a big plus.

"I called up Hobby Lobby at 9 o'clock on the last day of the eleventh hour and I said, 'we've got to either do this deal or it's going to die' and I said 'I'll be in your office in two hours."

And the rest is history, as the Hobby Lobby sits at the corner of Highway 30 and Interstate 45 in Huntsville.

- Source:  http://www.kbtx.com

Shoals leaders fight for Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (KMSL) to remain essential

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – The fate of the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport is up in the air as the federal government decides if the airport is essential to the area.

A drastic drop in boarding’s has Shoals leaders trying to re-group as they prepare for the departure of Silver Airways.

An empty terminal building and vacant ticket desk helps paint the picture of what’s going on at the airport.

Despite upgrades inside and out, boarding’s have plummeted to an average of 3 per day.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has pulled the Shoals from the Essential Air Service Program which subsidizes commercial air service in smaller communities.

“We’re confident, we have no doubt we can turn these boarding’s back around with the things you have to have, cost competitive tickets and on time delivery,” stated Steve Holt with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

According to Holt, airport board members have filed a waiver with the Department of Transportation for reconsideration.

He says Silver Airways has given the airport less than a stellar performance in the two years they have serviced the airport with flights to Atlanta.

And that has led to the drop in daily boarding’s.

“I’m going to be positive and anticipate we will get at least a one year waiver. Then we will have to perform, we will have to prove that we can change those boarding’s to a growth situation,” said Holt.

Despite their attempt to leave in July, Silver Airways must service the airport until at least early September while the Transportation Department considers the waiver.

If the airport is granted a waiver, they plan to sign a contract with SeaPort Airlines to provide four daily flights to and from Nashville.

Board members hope to get word about the waiver in the coming weeks.

- Source:   http://whnt.com

Pilot needn’t serve notice if not paid, Directorate General of Civil Aviation says

NEW DELHI: Airlines who default on their service condition agreements, like payment of salaries, with their employees could end up losing their valuable HR resources like pilots without any notice period.

The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) had last week asked Indian airlines to give a list of commanders who had quit without giving the mandatory six-month notice period and joined foreign carriers. The regulator had warned that such pilot could end up losing their licenses.

Predictably, this decision was panned by pilots who questioned the DGCA threat to their license. The reason: Many of them had quit as their Indian employer airline had unilaterally cut salaries, defaulted on payment or did not meet other service conditions.

Following this outcry, a senior DGCA official has now said that both the commanders and employer airlines must fulfill contractual obligations to each other. "If an airline has not kept its part of the contractual obligation or service condition with the pilots, their contract has been breached. Citing this breach, such pilots can leave without serving the notice period and no action will be taken against them," said an official.

The change of heart has happened right in time for pilots. The regulator has issued show cause notice to 16 commanders of a low cost carrier who quit without giving the six-month notice. "We have served show cause, asking them why action against them (read suspension of license) should not be taken against them. If they are able to prove that the airline breached its part of the contract then no action will be taken," said the official.

Senior pilots complain that some Indian carriers who are facing a serious cash crunch have salary dues. "They create all types of hurdles in letting us go. Getting a no objection certificate from some airline for leaving is almost impossible. Now they have made life tougher for us by getting the DGCA to ask airlines to submit a list of people who left without giving the show cause notice," said a pilot of a financially struggling Indian carrier that is notorious for not letting pilots go easily.

Existing Indian carriers are getting increasingly edgy about retaining pilots as Gulf carriers are paying them almost double — tax free! "One Gulf carrier held road shows in Delhi and Mumbai recently. While hundreds turned up for their interview, few could join as our airlines did not let us go. No airline is going to be willing to wait for six months for a pilot to join it," said a commander.

Also, with new players like Tata-Singapore Airlines (possibly the most awaited airline launches for job seekers) and Tata-AirAsia is hiring pilots, most of who are going from the existing carriers. The pilot community views the DGCA threat to their licenses at such a time a strong arm tactic by airlines to prevent them from leaving.

Story and Comments:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Some question Grand Junction Regional Airport (KGJT) search

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado — The Grand Junction City Council says it wants another search for a new manager for the Grand Junction Regional Airport, saying it was uncomfortable that a finalist sat on the job search committee.

After considering more than 60 applicants, the regional airport authority board decided on Ben Johnson, the airport's current operations director, The Daily Sentinel reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1p1MDMQ ).

Mayor Phyllis Norris told several airport authority board members Monday that the city council wasn't questioning Johnson's credentials — only that he sat on the committee that reviewed and turned down other applicants.

Authority board members said they would consider the city's position. They noted that Johnson hasn't been formally offered the job.

Mesa County commissioners were also briefed by the board on Monday. They had no objections to the search process.

The board will likely consider an appointment at an Aug. 19 meeting at which the public may comment, the Sentinel reported.

The national search began after Rex Tippetts, director of aviation, was fired Dec. 17 amid a federal investigation into airport business. The authority board gave no reason for Tippetts' dismissal. An attorney for Tippetts, Harry Griff, said at the time the firing was unwarranted.

The FBI only has said its investigation concerns fraud allegations. FBI agents executed search warrants at the airport's administrative offices and seized financial documents Nov. 7, and a judge has sealed that search warrant.

In May, federal officials announced they wouldn't prosecute the airport authority after the board agreed to cooperate with the probe. At the time, the U.S. Department of Justice said that a new board had made several changes, including accounting and oversight, new personnel and a hotline for whistleblowers.

The agreement covered only the authority and not employees or board members.

Board members said Monday that Johnson applied for the manager's job only after a top candidate bowed out. Search committee head Tom Frishe said that candidate withdrew apparently because he wanted to stay in his current job.

Board chairman Steve Wood said Johnson and the committee considered 64 applications, conducted interviews and brought in that one candidate for personal interviews.

Frishe said the search committee heard from job applicants that Johnson is well-regarded in the industry.

"All of them knew Ben," Frishe said. "Why are you looking outside? That was the comment" applicants made, he said.

"We know what we have now. We don't know what we have outside. I think it's a no-brainer," Frishe said. He said other candidates included officials at non-commercial airports and those with limited experience.

But Grand Junction city councilors said they'd like the position re-posted and, ideally, that a community member sit on the selection committee.

The committee included Frishe; Johnson; Dave Krogman, general manager at West Star Aviation, which provides aviation services at the airport; and Colin Fay, who used to run a flight school at the airport and now flies in Alaska. Fay participated by phone and Skype, Wood said.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com

The Daily Sentinel, Aug. 10, on a transparent search for an airport director:

The tone-deaf Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority seems to have a hard time understanding the concept of transparency. Or maybe it just doesn't care.

Intentional or not, that's the message the board is sending. In selecting an internal candidate as the lone finalist for the vacant airport manager's job, the board has revealed a sizable blind spot in its understanding of "optics," or the way the public perceives things.
The board has undergone months of heightened scrutiny in the wake of a federal investigation that aroused serious misgivings about its oversight function and led to the dismissal of former aviation director Rex Tippetts.

As a result, the board overhauled policies, tightened internal controls and promised to be more open about the way it conducts its business.

We took that as a sign that it had learned a lesson about the importance of transparency. But the board's search for a new airport manager proves it still has a way to go.

Most local government entities publicly vet candidates for top-level administrative posts. There's no legal requirement to do this. The airport board has every right to select a new airport manager without scheduling a public listening session or a "meet the finalists" forum. 

But why wouldn't it? 

A scandal-ridden board does not restore the public's confidence in how it does its job by selecting an internal candidate as its only finalist and making no public announcement about it. The board simply posted a finalist list to its website — a bare-minimum effort to inform the public.

The board seems certain that Ben Johnson is the best man for the job. Indeed, Tom Frishe made a convincing case that he's uniquely suited to succeed here. And maybe he is; but the questionable process that led to his selection undermines that vote of confidence. 

Johnson is the current airport operations manager and was initially a member of the search committee. He quit the committee and applied for the job after a nationwide search produced no qualified candidates.

To be fair, the board hasn't made a final vote on Johnson's hiring. It has a solid record of allowing public comment, so the public still has a chance to weigh in on this matter at the board's next meeting Aug. 19.

But we think it could avoid any second-guessing by acknowledging that the national search was a bust and starting the process over. Let Johnson's understanding of airport operations speak for itself. By publicly contrasting his views with those of an outside candidate — someone who might be able to put a fresh set of eyes on the airport's biggest challenges — the board can avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Otherwise, the board leaves itself wide open to interpretation. Is Johnson a hand-picked puppet — a board yes-man in the making? If the board wants to avoid such speculation, it should change course. Transparency can avert any misperceptions.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/1mGkXcb

Cape Air Struggles to Resume Regular Service Between Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Saipan - Cape Air announced that its service between the CNMI and Guam are cancelled indefinitely to guarantee that proper measures are being taken to ensure safe operations of its aircraft.

Cape Air president Linda Markham said their goal is to have their aircraft return to service as soon as possible.

Although flight cancellations are a true inconvenience to customers, Markham said safety is of utmost importance and Cape Air will not sacrifice that to expedite the process.

Markham’s announcement comes in heels of Cape Air cancelling over 13 flights have over the weekend.

Due to cancellations, Cape Air has asked for the help of code share partner United Airlines to accommodate stranded passengers in Guam and and other carriers like Asiana Airlines to service United flights from other countries with passengers whose final destination is Saipan.


PNC News contacted Cape Air's spokeswoman Trish Lorino who told us that they hoped to resume service Tuesday evening. She also said that United, Cape Air's parent company, was continuing to add extra flights to accommodate demand.

Read the full statement from Cape Air below:

"The aircraft is not estimated to be returned to service until late this morning."

"As a result, flights 5071 @ 0715 (GUM-SPN) & 5068 @ 0840 (SPN-GUM) have been cancelled."

"We have activated another crew for an extra section this afternoon at 1700. UA is also operating an extra flight this afternoon to accommodate passengers."

"Our employee group, as well as the team from United Airlines, continue to work diligently to restore service to optimal levels."

- Source:  http://www.pacificnewscenter.com

'Out of control' Robert: “Crew ended up put him down temporarily with an injection (we guess) and tied him up with belts"

'Out of control' passenger forces London-bound flight into U-turn

An “out of control” passenger forced a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for Heathrow to make a U-turn back to Hong Kong today.

Flight VS201 was forced to turn back after a 26-year-old passenger became disruptive, apparently forcing cabin crew to restrain him.

The man, identified only as “Robert”, was arrested when the plane landed at Hong Kong International Airport and sent to hospital, authorities said.

The flight had been in the air for just over an hour-and-a-half when the passenger “lost control and didn’t follow instructions from staff”.

Fellow passengers claimed he shouted and intimidated travellers before being restrained by belts.

Katie Wong, who claimed to be on board the disrupted flight, wrote on Facebook: “He just gone out of control (sic). Talk loud and walking ard. Actually he touched my shouter (sic) and go intimidated at the aisle when the captain announced we’re diverting the flight.

“The crew ended up put him down temporarily with an injection (we guess) and tied him up with belts.”

- Source:  http://www.standard.co.uk

Woman scales barbed wire fence hoping to stop her husband’s plane: Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Nova Scotia, Canada (with video)

HALIFAX -- No charges are expected against a woman who scaled a barbed-wire fence surrounding Halifax's airport and ran onto the tarmac Sunday in an attempt to prevent a plane from taking off, RCMP in Nova Scotia said.

The 37-year-old woman reportedly believed her partner was onboard an aircraft and was trying to stop its departure, said RCMP Sgt. Al LeBlanc.

"It's very unusual. I've never seen such an incident in my many years of policing," said LeBlanc in an interview. "Thankfully this lady was apprehended very quickly."

Officers discovered through their investigation that the woman's partner was not on any plane, Leblanc added.

Peter Spurway, a spokesman for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said control tower officials spotted the woman almost immediately after she jumped the three-metre fence and made it onto the airfield, around 8:30 a.m on Sunday.

She was on the tarmac for a few minutes, he said.

"I've been there eight years and this is a first for me," said Spurway, describing the incident as rare. "It is not an easy thing to scale that fence."

She may have sustained some minor injuries on the barbed wire, he added.

While the woman did not come into contact with any aircraft, air traffic controllers did reroute a small plane taxiing nearby as a safety precaution.

The woman was detained by an airport employee before RCMP officers arrived on the scene.

Spurway said the incident had virtually no effect on airport operations.

Besides a three-metre, barbed-wire fence, the airport's perimeter is protected by video cameras, infrared sensors and motion detectors.

However, the situation did give airport officials cause for reflection.

"We'll take a look at this incident and see if there's anything we need to adjust to maintain the security of the airfield," said Spurway.

LeBlanc said the woman was taken to hospital for a medical assessment.

Story and Video: http://www.ctvnews.ca