Senator Mike Lee is one of the very best when it comes to championing conservative causes, and he is currently leading the charge on what should otherwise be a common-sense de-regulation effort.
You see, there are some licensed pilots out there who would like to take part in flight-sharing (ride-sharing, but for Cessnas) by posting their flights and offers digitally. A simple electronic message like “I’m flying to Orlando for the weekend. You can come if you want to split the cost.”
That’s all it is, and it existed on an app called “Flytenow” for a time. However, during the Obama administration, the FAA blocked this practice through regulation. The current FAA under Trump’s administration is not doing anything about it. Because they are a non-legislative regulating agency, they clearly feel the need to squash yet another piece of private innovation that would ultimately convenience Americans.
So, Mike Lee is spearheading the push on S. 2650, which according to GovTrack:
To be technical about it, the bill would broaden the government’s legal definitions of “common carrier.” That’s because the court’s decision striking down Flytenow relied primarily on a narrow definition of that term.
Essentially, most of Flytenow’s pilots held private pilot licenses, not commercial pilot licenses like the pilots on American, United, Delta, and similar companies do. The FAA felt that Flytenow pilots should be considered as common carriers under the law, which would require them to have commercial pilot licenses. Flytenow disagreed, but the court ruled against them.
The Senate will be taking this bill up soon, possibly early next week. It should be common sense, but I get the feeling that the National Air Transportation Association, airline-affiliated unions, and the major airlines themselves are going to be opposed to this, and have probably been lobbying heavily already.
For the latter two groups, it’s easy to see why. This cuts directly into the bottom line. Flight-sharing is cheaper and has the benefit of not cramming you into a giant metal can with dozens of other people. That’s money out of the airlines’ pockets and when that happens, it’s money out of the unions’ pockets.
However, the Senate should stand united behind Mike Lee and pass S. 2650, because it benefits the American people. The special interests don’t want to lose money. The American people want convenience in their travel.
I hope the Senate makes the right decision.