BTS Goes to Alaska

BTS Goes to Alaska

Four Bureau of Transportation Statistics staff ­members headed north in late January to acquaint small Alaskan air carriers with new data-reporting requirements. Data gleaned from these reports will be used to set mail rates.

Small certificated air carriers (60 seats or less, payload under 18,000 lb), beginning in January, must file the same detailed monthly reports on traffic—passengers, flights, freight, load factor, distances and other information—that were previously required only from larger carriers. These detailed reports will be used by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Postal Service to streamline mail distribution to carriers and, hopefully, keep mail rates in check.

Since most Alaskan communities are remote and isolated, much food and other provisions travel by airmail. DOT sets the mail rates in Alaska—the only state where the U.S. Postal Service does not set rates. But mail rates are ­rising faster than the cost of living.

Part of the mail-rate review requires specific data from the air carriers. In January, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation ordered the 37 Alaskan carriers to begin reporting detailed data immediately so the review process can begin.

The first of the new reports from the Alaskan carriers, with January data, was due March 2nd. Such short notice required quick action to train the carriers.

Bernie Stankus, Jennifer Fabrizi, and Cecelia Robinson of BTS’ Office of Airline Information, along with Thea Graham of the Office of Statistical Computing, visited small certificated Alaskan air carriers from January 28th to February 1st to provide training and software for the new reporting requirements.