Saturday, March 29, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Lucas behind airline relief bill

Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Ky., Friday said he was co-sponsoring a bill introduced last week that would provide financial relief for airlines for security costs, a package worth up to $5 billion.

The Richwood resident, whose district includes the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, said Congress needed to step in to stabilize what he called a "vital industry" that is "especially important to Northern Kentucky."

"Spiraling security costs along with the war on terrorism are crippling our air travel providers and threatening the industry as a whole," Lucas said.

Lucas' aides said he wanted to get the aid package included as a provision in the supplemental appropriations bill that could hit the House floor next week.

The bill, originally introduced by Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., would provide reimbursements to airlines for reinforcing cockpits, airport screening operations and the cost of losing seats to federal air marshals.

Airlines, including Delta Air Lines, which operates its second-largest hub locally, have been pushing hard for federal relief from what it perceives as excessive taxes, security costs, fees and to reinstitute a federal loan guarantee program, a package worth $9 billion. They say that without such help, the industry could collapse if the war with Iraq continues for an extended period of time.

James Pilcher

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