Transportation

Virgin Airways hires lobbyist ahead of FAA fight

Virgin Atlantic Airways is hiring a new lobbyist as lawmakers close in on legislation to renew authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration.

FTI Government Affairs registered to lobby for the airline, focusing on legislation and regulations pertaining to airlines and air travel, aviation policy and the FAA reauthorization, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed this week.

Virgin Atlantic Airways, a subsidiary of Virgin Group, did not report any lobbying expenses in 2014 and 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

{mosads}The move comes as Congress scrambles to reauthorize the FAA before its legal authority expires this summer. Industry groups have been eager to weigh in on the must-pass legislation, which will have a significant impact on airline companies.

A short-term patch extended the agency’s legal authority to July 15. Lawmakers have tussled over a number of issues, including whether to separate the nation’s air traffic control system from the FAA or raise the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge.

A six-year House bill, H.R. 4441, was advanced out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in February but has stalled due to the controversial proposal to spin off air traffic control.

The plan is being championed by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and supported by most of the nation’s major airline companies.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last month approved its own version of the bill, S. 2658, that would extend the FAA’s legal authority through fiscal 2017. That measure does not include language to privatize air traffic control. The full chamber could consider the measure in coming weeks.

The last time Virgin Atlantic Airways reported any lobbying expenses was during 2013, spending a total of $150,000 that year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

When Congress worked on the previous FAA reauthorization in 2011 and 2012, the company reported a total of $380,000 in lobbying expenses during those years.

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