Industry Coalition Defends Air Service to Small Communities

A coalition of industry groups, including the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), joined today in cautioning leaders in the White House, Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about inaccurate characterizations of Part 135 air carriers that conduct public charter flights under DOT Part 380 regulations and provide vital air service to small communities in the United States.

In a June 30 letter, the coalition noted a DOT docket for a pending financial fitness application, “has been misused by economic competitors that, with no evidence of safety and security concerns, seek to prevent Part 135 operators from conducting public charter flights.”

“[These] unsubstantiated claims do a disservice to this well-established regulatory framework and the safe, secure transportation services its operators provide to the traveling public,” read the letter sent to Members of Congress and Biden Administration officials.

For more than 45 years, DOT’s Part 380 economic regulations have governed a broad range of air service options operations under both Part 121 and Part 135, without controversy. Review a sample of the coalition letter.

“The public charter industry provides much needed service to smaller underserved communities,” the coalition said. “This service would be severely disrupted and entire communities deprived of air service if a wholesale revision of the regulations were made by Congress, as some opponents of the Part 135/Part 380 business model urge.”

“For example, the evolution of commercial air transportation – particularly with respect to vertical take-off and landing aircraft, hybrid and all-electric flight, and advanced air mobility operations – depends on Part 135 for commercial success,” the letter stated. “Swift regulatory change, without research, data or stakeholder input could negatively impact promising new technologies.”

“We respectfully ask Congress to allow DOT to independently resolve the application and reject any legislative attempts to interfere,” the letter concluded. “Doing so will protect service to small communities and promising new technologies.”

In addition to NBAA, other signatories included the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX); Helicopter Association International (HAI); the International Flight Services Association (IFSA); the National Air Carrier Association (NACA); and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).