The government never bats 1.000, but last week it seemed to be slumping a little on some travel issues, hitting 1-for-3.
In Congress, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have drafted a law to impose an Ebola travel ban, but it's overly broad and simplistic, and we don't like it.
We even dislike the title they chose, the "Keeping America Safe from Ebola Act." We're already pretty safe from Ebola, and we got this way without this law.
As introduced in the House and Senate just before Thanksgiving, the bill would suspend the issuance of visas to citizens or residents of a country designated as having "widespread transmission," a term that pertains, at present, to only three countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
As we read the legislation, citizens of third countries who pass through infected areas would not be affected by the bill.
Thus the bill targets people because of who they are (citizens or residents of particular countries), not because of anything they might have done (become exposed to Ebola).
Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, isn't crazy about this bill either. While acknowledging that "debating the proper policy response in the clear light of day is a proper and healthy thing" for Congress, he expressed the hope that "science and empirical data will hold sway over any new measure."
We second the motion.
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Better news emerged from the Transportation and State Department last week when officials revealed that the U.S. and Mexico have finally come to terms on updating their bilateral aviation accord.
The new pact falls short of "open skies," which generally means "no restrictions on anything," but it makes one huge improvement by eliminating the cap on the number of carriers that can serve any given city-pair, effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Under the old pact, which dates from 2005, most U.S.-Mexico routes can be served by only two carriers on either side of the border, for a total of four. For about a dozen major Mexican destinations, such as Cancun, Cozumel and Guadalajara, the limit is three carriers on each side, or a maximum of six.
As a practical matter, there aren't many U.S.-Mexico routes that can support four or more U.S. airlines, with or without a few Mexican carriers in the mix, but as a rule, we'd rather leave that to the marketplace than to bureaucrats in Washington and Mexico City.
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Finally, we don't know what to make of the mess that is brewing over the National Park Service's management of its concession contracts at the Grand Canyon. Xanterra, the long-time concessionaire that's been handling lodging, food service and other visitor services at the South Rim, is seeking an injunction that would allow it to keep operating beyond Dec. 31, when its current contract expires.
According to what the company has placed before a federal judge in Denver, the park service has not yet awarded a contract for 2015 and beyond because it has been making unreasonable demands, including a precipitous bump in the concession fee from 3.8% of gross revenue to 14%.
All this could be chalked up to routine haggling except that the dispute has been raging for over a year and pertains to contracts for Grand Canyon National Park concessions that expire in a month. The park service should have had this fixed long before now.