Officials say airlines, airports are Y2K compliant

LAS VEGAS - America's airlines and airports will be Y2K compliant and travelers should expect a minimum of problems flying into the next century, industry executives said Tuesday.

''The airline industry is in great shape and we will be ready for the new millennium,'' David A. Fuscus, vice president of communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Air Transport Association, told a news conference Tuesday. ''We're confident that air travel will be as safe on January first as it is today, and will be tomorrow and beyond.''

He said $750 million has been spent in the United States, $2.3 billion worldwide, to achieve Y2K compliance in the airline industry.

''We did an extremely good job fixing the system,'' Fuscus said.

Fuscus was in Las Vegas to pitch the latest findings of the Aviation Millennium Project, a $16 million program launched two years ago to make sure the airline industry was ready for the new millennium and any computer glitches 2000 might bring.

The project included surveys of 102 airlines in the United States and Canada, more than 500 airports, air traffic control systems and hundreds of aviation suppliers and manufacturers.

Fuscus said industry computers are up to speed, from those that run the reservation services to the systems that fly the planes and control the skies.

Boeing and Airbus have completed their Y2K flight-testing, Fuscus said, and have demonstrated that there are no flight safety issues related to Y2K.

Evon Jones, senior vice president and chief information officer for America West Airlines, said the company had made the Year 2000 program a top priority the past two years. He said America West expected ''business as usual'' for all areas of operation.

Marc Traasdahl, manager of the Y2K program at McCarran International Airport, said the Las Vegas airport had been working three years on the Y2K compliance issue.

''We cannot guarantee that there will be no occurrences,'' he said, ''but we believe there will be no major disruptions in services.''

''If there's one part we're a little nervous about, it's international flights,'' Traasdahl said.

Fuscus said he felt ''very comfortable'' about international as well as U.S. systems.

C.A. Howlett, senior vice president of public affairs for America West, said the company ''had some questions early on'' about the Y2K issue, ''but they have diminished dramatically.''

Howlett said there will be a period New Year's Eve, from about 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., where the company will have no flights in or out of Las Vegas. He said it was a matter of passengers, not concern over computer glitches.

''It's 100 percent related to the fact that everybody will be where they want to be for the big celebration'' at midnight Dec. 31, Howlett said.


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