No Picture

Trump’s corporate infrastructure giveaway begins with air traffic control

June 5, 2017 aurorax 0

The president signed a list of air traffic control “principles” in a fake bill signing.

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. CREDIT: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Donald Trump announced the first part of his infrastructure plan on Monday, which would privatize the air control system. This week he plans to roll out the rest of his infrastructure agenda, which he said would invest $1 trillion in infrastructure.

The administration has released very few details about how it plans to invest in waterways and roads, and all of Trump’s policy statements have been removed from his campaign website. But if his air traffic control announcement is any indication of where the rest of his infrastructure plan is headed, it will be a massive giveaway to corporations and a departure from past infrastructure programs.

President Donald Trump hailed the plan on Monday and claimed it would be a “huge economic boost” for the country, without explaining how that would be the case. Under his plan, air traffic control would be turned over to a non-profit entity that would initially rely on loans.

“Under this new plan, the Federal Aviation Administration will focus firmly on what it does best: safety,” said Trump. “A separate nonprofit entity would be in charge of route to efficiency, timely service and a long-awaited reduction in delays.”

Trump then signed a list of air traffic control principles, in a sort of pantomime of a bill signing.

Trump official admits Americans will have to pay for his infrastructure projects

Getting to a real-life bill signing could be difficult, as some republican lawmakers are already dissenting from the proposal. Lawmakers from states that rely on general aviation airports are concerned that people in rural districts would be forced to pay more under the new system, because it would give commercial airlines greater influence. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) said they oppose the move to privatize air traffic control.

“The question becomes if it’s privatized and made up of a board of people who are generally associated with the airlines, who is there to prevent an increase in cost to general aviation?” Moran told McClatchy in March.

Senate Democrats argue that direct federal spending — including an investment in the country’s broadband network — is the best way to improve infrastructure. Their 10-year plan, unveiled in January, would allocate $210 billion for roads and bridges, $100 billion for updates to the electrical grid, $180 billion for expanded rail and bus lines, and $200 billion for “vital infrastructure projects.”

Trump’s infrastructure plan comes after he proposed a series of cuts to government agencies and programs that are relevant to the country’s infrastructure. His budget proposed reducing funding for the Department of Transportation by about 12 percent and for the Army Corps of Engineers by more than 16 percent. His budget would also programs like the Community Development Block Grant, which helps communities fill potholes and build affordable housing.

Trump’s corporate infrastructure giveaway begins with air traffic control was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

No Picture

American Airlines suspends employee after video of violent altercations with passengers

April 22, 2017 aurorax 0

The incident comes just two weeks after outrage over the violent treatment of a United Airlines passenger.

CREDIT: Facebook video

According to a passenger account and a video posted to Facebook, an American Airlines flight attendant on Flight 591 on Friday violently grabbed a stroller from a mother holding her baby, hitting her and narrowly avoiding hitting the baby.

The incident itself wasn’t captured by the video passenger Surain Adyanthaya posted on Facebook. But in Adyanthaya’s video, a clearly distraught mother can be seen and heard crying while she holds her baby and asks for her stroller to be returned. Witnesses have described the incident starting when the mother was trying to find room for her stroller.

In the Facebook video, the American Airlines employee gets hostile with another passenger. After a male passenger confronts the flight attendant in question, saying of the treatment of the mother, “You do that to me and I’ll knock you flat,” the employee dared him to a fight. “Come on try it,” he says. “Hit me.”

“Keep it quiet,” he later yells at the male passenger.

Surain Adyanthaya

Adyanthaya later posted a photo of the mother and claimed that the airline involuntarily removed her from the flight and then let the flight attendant in question back on. American has disputed that characterization, saying the mother elected to take another flight and that she was upgraded to first class for the rest of her trip.

American responded relatively quickly to the incident, saying in a statement posted at 10:30pm central time on Friday, “We have seen the video and have already started an investigation to obtain the facts. What we see on this video does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers.” The statement said that the flight attendant has been “removed from duty while we immediately investigate this incident.” The airline told ThinkProgress that means “the flight attendant will not be working while we investigate the issue” but wouldn’t comment on how long that might take or what the outcome could be.

“We are deeply sorry for the pain we have caused this passenger and her family and to any other customers affected by the incident,” the statement said.

The quick apology stands in contrast to the way United Airlines responded to a video posted two weeks ago showing uniformed security agents violently assaulting and then removing passenger David Dao. After asking for volunteers to leave their seats so other United employees could get on the flight, Dao was picked by a computer. When he refused because he had patients to see in the morning, he was forcibly removed. Dao’s injuries included a broken nose, a concussion, and two knocked-out teeth.

At first, United’s CEO publicly apologized only for “having to re-accommodate these customers” and in an internal memo blamed the incident on Dao “def[ying] Chicago Aviation Security officers.” It took two days of backlash and a tanking stock price to yield a full apology.

American Airlines suspends employee after video of violent altercations with passengers was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

No Picture

Citing Trump’s policies, the Middle East’s largest airline cuts back on flights to U.S.

April 19, 2017 aurorax 0

The move plays into the hands of major U.S. airline conglomerates.

In this Wednesday, March 12, 2014 file photo, a stewardess stands inside an Emirates A380 aircraft, the world’s largest passenger airline, during the fourth Indian Aviation show at Begumpet airport in Hyderabad, India. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A., File

On Wednesday, Emirates Airlines— the Middle East’s largest airline — announced that it would be curbing flights to the United States due to decreased demand stemming from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies.

Emirates is headquartered in Dubai, which is a major hub for travelers coming from the six countries affected by Trump’s travel ban.

Dubai is also one of 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries affected by the Trump administration’s laptop ban, which prohibits laptops and other personal electronics from being brought aboard planes in carry-ons.

Just like its first iteration — which additionally banned travelers from Iraq — Trump’s executive order restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries has been blocked by the courts. Emirates’ decision indicates that it has still, however, had a chilling effect on would-be visitors to the U.S.

The airline’s reductions are due to begin next month, and will affect five of the 12 U.S. destinations that Emirates serves. U.S.-bound flights from Dubai will be reduced from 126 to 101.

The airline stressed the decision was “commercial.”

“The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins, have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S.,” the carrier said, as reported by the Associated Press.

Emirates and other gulf airlines have been expanding in the U.S. in recent years, and are major servers for international travel. The reduction in service will have a disproportionate impact on Americans with family abroad in the Muslim-majority countries — many of whom rely on connections through Dubai for international travel.

The reduction may also have a negative effect on U.S. travelers writ large. The U.S. air travel market is largely controlled by large airline conglomerates, with the vast majority of flights being serviced by American, United, Delta, or Southwest. This lack of competition gives major U.S. airlines more control over cost and services offered — and has led to a generally dismal customer experience.

In the 2016 rankings of best airlines in the world, none of the U.S.’s top four airlines made it anywhere close to the top 20. Emirates was ranked first.

The move from Emirates comes a little over a week after outrage erupted stemming from United’s treatment of a passenger on an overbooked flight — who, after refusing to give up his ticketed seat, was knocked unconscious and dragged off the flight by airport security.

Fly the friendly skies with a real airline.

 — @emirates

Emirates airline, reacting to the incident on Twitter, unleashed a now-viral video captioned “fly the friendly skies with a real airline,” trolling United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz. In March, Munoz said that Gulf airlines, like Emirates, were not “real” airlines.

The video also touted the airlines’ many customer service awards. Superior service offered by Gulf airlines and expanding service in U.S. markets has been putting pressure on U.S. airlines — like United — in recent years. But if international lines, particularly ones like Emirates with exceptional service, cut back on flights to the U.S. as a result of U.S. politics, it may only strengthen domestic carriers’ control of the market.

Citing Trump’s policies, the Middle East’s largest airline cuts back on flights to U.S. was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.