A major step to reduce federal airline regulation was taken Friday by the House of Representatives when Aviation Subcommittee chairman Glenn M. Anderson (D-Calif.) finally dropped a bill in the hopper.
Co-sponsors of the measure include Public Works and Transportation Committee chairman Harold (Bizz) Johnson (D-Calif.) and at least three committee members, Allen Ertel (D-Pa.), John Fary (D-Ill.), and Norman Y. Mineta (D-Calif.)
The bill's introduction followed by a day the tentative approval of an aviation regulatory measure by the Senate Commerce Committee.
While the methods of achieving the goals differ with the pending Senate bill, the thrust of the House measure is the same: to give new airlines greater opportunity to enter the business, to give existing airlines more freedom to make key managerial decisions - where to fly and what to charge - and to streamline procedures of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
White House and Transportation Department officials praised Anderson's action - one they had been lobbying for for some time. "The Senate is nearing completion on a reform bill and the House, having already had a number of hearings, should be in a position to act in an expeditious manner," Transportation Secretary Brock Adams said.
"I pledge my personal support . . . to this most important reform initiative," Adams said, adding "President Carter and I both feel most strongly that this type of reform is essential . . ."
The House measure introduced last week would:
Allow airlines to raise fares by 10 per cent or lower tham by up to 25 per cent without CAB approval.
Allow airlines, both large and small, to enter one new route each year for five years without CAB approval, but would limit routes to one new carrier in any three-year period. If more than one carrier chooses the same route, the CAB must elect between them.
Require the CAB to encourage competition and to favor low fare proposals placing the burden of proof on those opposing an application to show that it should not be granted.
Let unregulated commuter airlines operate planes seating up to 56 people; they are now limited to 30-seaters.
Require the CAB to complete cases in one year and allow them to act without hearings in less controversial cases.
Guarantee air service, with subsidy when necessary, to small communities, and commuter airlines eligible for subsidies.
In introducing the bill, Anderson said hearings held last year convinced him "the existing regulatory system does not produce the best results" for either the industry - which as a whole lacks the earnings necessary to fund the purchase of new quieter and more fuel-efficient airplanes - or the travelling public, which has been denied the lower fares possible with a more competitive industry."
"Indeed the only group which seems to benefit from the existing system is regulatory lawyers," he said. He noted that last year the CAB-regulated airlines paid more than $7 million to Washington law firms trying to get CAB approval for fare increases, occasional decreases and route applications.
Co-sponsor Mineta, a strong proponent of reduced regulation, said the subcommittee would hold five days of hearings on the measure in different California cities later this month. The subcommittee has already held hearings in Pennsylvania and Illinois this summer, and is expected to hold some truncated hearings in Washington in September before beginning to mark up the measure.