“Closed-Door
Meetings of Washington Special Interests and ‘Voluntary’ Inside Fixes
Won’t Cut It This Time,” Says Hanni


WASHINGTON (June 10)
– The nation’s largest consumer group
representing airline passengers today demanded “immediate,
comprehensive and enforceable legislation” to protect the 160 million
passengers of the nation’s regional airlines.

The demand came in the wake of shocking revelations at a three-day
National Transportation Safety Board inquiry about shoddy safety
practices by regional carrier Colgan Air, a subsidiary of Pinnacle
Airlines, which operated Continental flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo
on which 50 people died on February 12.  The NTSB hearing revealed
that inexperienced, overworked, poorly-paid and poorly-trained pilots
may have reacted inappropriately when the aircraft stalled after an ice
buildup on the wings.

“Closed-door meetings of Washington special interests and ‘voluntary’
inside fixes won’t cut it this time,” said FlyersRights.org Executive
Director Kate Hanni.  “We’ve had years of FAA inaction and
closed-door cozy regulation, and it led to calamity in just a few
seconds.  What’s needed now is for Congress to assure the flying
public that the crews of regional carriers are experienced,
well-trained, well-rested – and better paid than if they’d taken a job
managing a Bob Evans restaurant.”

Yesterday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator
Randy Babbitt suggested a “voluntary” approach to safety improvements
by the regional carriers, following “closed-door” meetings next week
involving airline industry executives and union officials.

“Airline executives and union bosses aren’t the ones who risk their
lives on these flights every day.  These regional carriers
represent half of all U.S. flights and carry 22% of all passengers
who’ll board a commercial aircraft today.  We have every right to
open, transparent action by our Congress, not handshakes between
industry executives and bureaucrats behind closed doors.”

FlyersRights.org is the largest airline passengers’ rights association
in the U.S. with 25,000 members.  Besides the FlyersRights.org
website, the organization maintains a toll-free hotline
(1-877-FLYERS-6) which passengers and airline employees can use to
anonymously report breaches of health and safety standards.

FOR BACKGROUND, SEE Washington Post Article