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Costello playing key role in FAA reauthorization

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Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) (UPI file photo/Bill Greenblatt)

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A congressman from the Metro-East is playing a leading role this year in re-authorizing the nation's main aviation agency.

Democrat Jerry Costello chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the FAA. Last week, that committee approved the agency's re-authorization.

One change within that reauthorization would change how the FAA negotiates contracts with air traffic controllers.

Last year, an impasse was declared, which meant under current rules that the FAA's proposed contract automatically took effect. "We're not trying to negotiate a contract," Costello said, in an interview. "What we're saying is that the current system that gives everything to one side is unfair. And we should fix it for the in the future so that there are incentives to bargain in good faith."

Costello says the legislation would require binding arbitration in contract talks.

Another issue the bill addresses is travelers who face more and more delays at airports, by requring airlines to create a contingency plan that details how they'll handle flight and tarmac delays, and how they'll get things like food, water, and medical care to people.

"There will always be delays," Costello added. "But what we can do is impose fines and hold the airlines accountable when they in fact have major delays that go beyond what is reasonable."

The legislation would also create a 1-800-number where passengers can complain about excessive delays.

The full U.S. House will now take on the bill, which will later on be reconciled with whatever FAA bill the Senate passes.

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