Today I made some major aviation announcements, and I wanted you all to know what we’re doing to help airports and airlines reduce delays and fuel-wasting congestion.
First, I announced the Department’s final rates and charges policies that will give managers at busy airports the ability to use market incentives to help spread flights throughout the day. Because of the new rules, overcrowded airports will be able to move away from the decades-old practice of charging aircraft landing fees based simply on the weight of the plane, and instead have the flexibility to vary charges based on the time of day the plane operates.
The new rules will also allow airport operators to include the cost of projects designed to expand capacity in the new landing fees, which will help airports lower construction project costs by avoiding hefty finance fees. Currently, airports can only include those costs after the projects have been completed.
I also announced that the FAA and the X Prize Foundation—which awarded $10 million in 2004 to the first private team to launch a manned spacecraft into suborbital space—will lead a new X Prize competition to stimulate private sector innovation in developing an alternative to jet fuel. For more than a century, creativity and innovation have been the hallmark of American aviation. The race to refuel American aviation is on and our hope is that the X Prize will jump-start investment and spur innovation.
Finally, I announced the government will continue to provide the airlines with War Risk Insurance through the end of this year, a measure that will avoid burdening carriers with higher insurance costs on top of increasing fuel prices.
All of these announcements are part of our continued effort to give airports and airlines the tools to help them manage congestion, operate at peak efficiency and decrease fuel burn.