Buffalo, New York- July 26, 2010 – Looking forward to getting the FAA Reauthorization Bill to the Senate floor this Tuesday to keep the bill on track for overall passage by the August 1st deadline, the hopes of the ‘Families of Continental Flight 3407’ received a crushing blow when negotiations fell apart on Thursday night as Senator Mark Warner of Virginia stubbornly refused to give ground to Western senators hoping to ease decades-old restrictions on long-haul flights into Reagan National Airport.
‘Our group is very east-coast and midwest-based, so I guess you can’t be surprised when the airlines literally give the western senators millions of reasons why they should push for these slot conversions,’ stated Ken Mellett of McLean, Virginia, who lost his thirty-four year old son Coleman Mellett, a guitarist for the Chuck Mangione Band. ‘But for the families from Virginia who have never even had the chance to sit down with Senator Warner and share our pain with him, it hurts to feel like the issue of aviation safety for the American flying public is a distant second in terms of his priorities. Our theme throughout this process has been working together and compromise, and we are just not seeing that happen.’
Group members were in Washington all last week, reaching out to the staffs of thirty-five members of the Senate Republican caucus, and all the Senators affected by the slots issue. Their message emphasized the numerous positive aspects of the bill – its safety provisions, modernization of the air traffic control system with NextGen, passenger rights, and infrastructure improvements and job creation through airport funding – which would hopefully outweigh some of the concerns that individual senators might have about the bill.
‘Make no mistake about it, this is Washington at its worst,’ declared Kevin Kuwik of Columbus, Ohio, who lost his girlfriend Lorin Maurer. ‘Fourteen months of empty promises – some as recently as last Tuesday – and still nothing to show for it. And there is plenty of blame to go around – from hard-line negotiating postures all summer to poor attempts at building consensus to ridiculous PR stunts. For a much more complex and controversial finance regulation reform bill to go through both houses in a shorter time frame than this, with human lives and safety at stake, is absolutely a shame. I guess we hitched our hopes to the wrong horses.’