FAA Extension Probable:
The Senate is facing a deadlock on a pilot training dispute, which is expected to delay consideration of the FAA bill beyond the September 30th reauthorization deadline, according to Commerce Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA). The dispute centers around an amendment proposed by Senator John Thune (R-SD), which would allow alternative forms of pilot training to count towards the current 1,500-hour requirement. Cantwell, who supports maintaining the current training rules, believes the dispute is jeopardizing the progress of both bills and predicts a short-term extension will be necessary if Thune's amendment remains a sticking point.
Efforts to find a compromise on the pilot training amendment have so far been unsuccessful. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, has indicated a willingness to raise the pilot retirement age from 65 to 67, a change that Democrats on the committee support. However, the Air Line Pilots Association opposes this change unless the 1,500-hour requirement remains the same.
Committee Democrats emphasize that the FAA bill contains numerous bipartisan provisions and expresses hope that progress can be made by taking Sen. Cruz's compromise into account. She argues that lowering safety standards to pass the bill is not an option.
The FAA bill also includes provisions for four additional round-trip long-distance flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, an agreement made with Senator Cruz. While this aspect doesn't present a significant roadblock in committee, it may be contentious further down the road, as some Democratic senators have opposed the inclusion of these flights.
Cantwell plans to highlight the ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers and the impact on consumers during the August recess to build support for the FAA bill. She emphasizes the need to improve the FAA's technology to prevent system outages and airline meltdowns.
The Senate's next official action on the FAA bill won't occur until after Labor Day. This means there will be a limited window to mark up and pass the bill before the September 30 reauthorization deadline. The current deadlock on the pilot training issue is likely to be the primary obstacle in moving the bill forward.
EV’s Sales Up in California:
California’s relentless push of the electric vehicle market is starting to come to fruition.
Between April and June of this year, zero-emission vehicles made up 25.4% of the cars sold in California, the first time the state has surpassed this threshold, according to the California Energy Commission. Out of the 496,346 vehicles sold during the second quarter, over a quarter were zero-emission, including battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars. Year to date, 24.3% of all vehicle sales in the state were zero-emission, with Tesla accounting for 54.9% of those sales. California has been a leader in electrifying its vehicle fleet, aiming for 100% zero-emission sales by 2035. Nationally, EVs comprised 7.2% of sales in the second quarter, up from 5.7% the previous year.
Freight Market Sneaking By:
Despite a doomsday promise by many, the U.S. economy has managed to avoid a recession overall, but certain sectors, like the freight industry, have been severely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic-related instabilities – those of which are still being felt today.
The global shipping industry, responsible for transporting goods worldwide, has faced a prolonged slump since the peak of the pandemic. This downturn has also affected other transportation segments, notably trucking, especially in the U.S., leading to what the Federal Reserve calls a "freight recession." The Drewry World Container Index, tracking container rates on major shipping routes, has fallen over 75% from a year ago due to reduced consumer spending and suppressed demand for goods. The decline in the freight market has affected financial companies with exposure to the industry, indicating ongoing challenges for the US economy.
Like any recession or market depression, the market will correct itself and happier times are on the horizon.