Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (10/15/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Service to Airports Not Receiving Sufficient

Service

Title II: Regional Air Service Incentive Program

Title III: Contract Tower Program

Title IV: Air Carrier Competition

Airline Service Improvement Act of 1998 - Title I: Service to Airports Not Receiving Sufficient Service - Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to grant exemptions pertaining to the use of slots (arrival and departure spaces) at high density airports in order to enable air carriers to provide nonstop air transportation using noise-compliant aircraft between a high density airport and a small hub or nonhub airport that the Secretary determines is not receiving sufficient air service to and from the high density airport. Provides exemption limitations, including a limitation of no more than six exemptions per day for slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (with further conditions on the Washington exemptions). Requires exemption decisions to be made by the Secretary within 120 days of application.

Makes funds not otherwise obligated or expended for the Federal essential air service program available for: (1) air carrier service to airports not receiving sufficient air service; and (2) rural air safety at airports with less than 100,000 annual boardings. Makes 50 percent of any available funds in excess of $50 million in a fiscal year after 1998 available for the rural air safety program. Provides an assistance priority at airports for which a community will provide a portion of the costs incurred. Waives the local contribution requirement for any place for which a proposal was approved or designated as eligible for such assistance during the period beginning October 1, 1991, and ending on December 31, 1997.

Requires a decision by the Secretary within 180 days after receipt of a complaint alleging that an air carrier has been or is engaging in an unfair method of competition in the provision or sale of air transportation.

Title II: Regional Air Service Incentive Program - Authorizes the Secretary to guarantee any lender against loss on any loan made to a commuter air carrier (maximum seating capacity of 75 or less) or new entrant air carrier (less than five years of service) for the purchase of jet aircraft when such aircraft are to be used to provide at least two round-trips per day five days per week to underserved markets. Outlines loan conditions and limitations, including that: (1) such aircraft comply with certain Federal noise-level requirements; and (2) the air carrier agrees to provide service to the underserved airport(s) for at least two years after being placed in service. Directs the Secretary to repay the holder of a loan guaranteed by the Secretary after the holder has made reasonable collection efforts. Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) collect a loan guarantee fee from such lenders; and (2) be given, and make use of, Federal facilities and assistance in carrying out the incentive program.

Terminates the above authority five years after the enactment of this Act. Authorizes appropriations.

Title III: Contract Tower Program - Directs the Secretary to establish a program to contract for air traffic control services at not more than 20 low activity air traffic control towers that do not qualify for the current contract tower program. Provides airport priority under the program. Requires the airport sponsor or appropriate State or local government to pay the portion of control tower costs exceeding benefits under the program.

Authorizes appropriations.

Title IV: Air Carrier Competition - Requires each major air carrier participating in a joint venture agreement, at least 30 days before the agreement may take effect, to submit to the Secretary a complete copy of such agreement and all related agreements, information, or documentation the Secretary may require. Authorizes the Secretary to extend such waiting period: (1) for an additional 150 days, in the case of a code-sharing agreement; and (2) for an additional 60 days, in the case of any other agreement. Directs the Secretary to consult with the Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice in order to establish, through a written memorandum of understanding, preclearance procedures to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort by such parties under this title and the antitrust laws. Provides for the treatment of prior agreements and related waiting periods.

Directs the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to complete a comprehensive update of the 1991 study of airline deregulation prepared by the Transportation Research Board of the Council. Requires a report: (1) from the Council to the Secretary and the Congress concerning the update; (2) from the Secretary to the Congress responding to Council findings and recommendations; and (3) from the Secretary to the Congress on a study of complaints received by the Secretary concerning acts of unfair competition or predatory pricing in the airline industry. Provides conditions and limitations on the issuance by the Secretary of final airline industry regulatory guidelines concerning such practices. Prohibits such guidelines from taking effect until 12 weeks after they are submitted to the Congress.