Bennet Calls for Passage of FAA Bill to Reduce Delays at Durango-La Plata County Airport, Boost Four Corners' Economy

Bill Will Upgrade Air Traffic Control System, Reduce Delays By 20% And Ensure Passengers Don't Sit On Runways For Hours

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today called for the passage of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill to protect Colorado consumers, reduce delays and boost local economies around the state by improving service at smaller airports.

“This bill will help make air travel more reliable and ensure that Colorado’s airports, big and small, continue to be economic engines for our state and communities,” Bennet said. “Whether you are traveling to visit loved ones or for a business meeting, few things are more frustrating than sitting at your gate or on the tarmac while your flight is delayed. The new FAA bill will help ease stress for travelers by bringing our badly outdated air traffic control system up to date. While security and safety remains a top priority, this bill will allow for more flights, fewer delays and greater opportunity for economic growth.”

The FAA Reauthorization measure, which has not been substantively examined or rewritten since 2007, will modernize our nation’s air transportation system and reduce frustrating, costly delays by more than 20 percent—saving consumers time and potentially billions of dollars. In 2007, the total cost of all U.S. air transportation delays was $32.9 billion, including a $16.7 billion cost to passengers, according to the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research (NEXTOR). At Durango-La Plata County Airport, nearly 11 percent of all flights departed late and nearly 17 percent arrived late in 2010.

When flights are delayed, the bill will protect passengers from having to sit on runways for hours and require airlines to provide passengers with timely, accurate information regarding their flights. The bill also will require airlines to have plans in place for providing passengers with adequate food, water and access to restrooms during delays.

The bill will create and protect 280,000 jobs across the country by investing in airports and improving infrastructure. The bill preserves funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), a vital fund for rural airports that has provided millions of dollars in vital infrastructure improvements for the Durango airport.

Ron Dent, Manager, La Plata-Durango Airport, said: “The Durango Airport has been experiencing an average of 10 percent growth in passenger traffic each year, which is a vital part of our economic future in Durango.  Without the FAA’s  Airport Improvement Program to fund our airport improvements that growth would have been impossible. We appreciate Senator Bennet’s support to get the FAA Reauthorization bill passed with a strong AIP program. It will be critical to ensuring Durango’s airport can continue to grow and keep our economy strong.”