AIR INDUSTRY CAMPAIGN AIMS TO FIX SYSTEM

AIR INDUSTRY CAMPAIGN AIMS TO FIX SYSTEM

Now let's talk about solutions, says the first ad in a two-year, multimillion-d ollar pro-aviation campaign kicking off next Tuesday.

The Tuesday launch date ends months of preparation by more than a score of airlines and suppliers united in a coalition called the Partnership for Improved Air Travel.In addition to the airlines and supplier/manufacturers involved, several aviation trade groups have accepted invitations to participate.

The initial price tag for the project hovered around $5 million.

The project could eventually cost as much as $15 million through its life span, say insiders, with the money provided in a funding mechanism in which participants will not be assessed until various segments of the effort are begun.

Along with the change in cost, the message and target audience also necessarily evolved as the project progressed.

Instead of targeting the general public, the group will aim its message primarily at frequent fliers, system users, and federal, state and local lawmakers.

How could Americans let the best air transportation system in the world get so bogged down? asks the first ad.

Let's make a national commitment to restore the efficiency of our air transportation system, the copy continues, a commitment like the one we made to build the Interstate Highway system in the 1950s.

Burson-Marsteller late last year beat out seven other public relations and advertising companies that bid for the contract to handle the account.

The project originally started under the supervision of the Air Transport Association at the behest of its member airlines.

Originally built on a concept called Fix the System, the campaign later moved out of the hands of the trade association and into the venue of a coordinating committee made up of executives for 16 major airlines and at least five suppliers of aviation equipment, and the trade groups.

According to coalition insiders and other aviation-group personnel briefed by Tim Brosnahan, the Burson-Marsteller executive vice president handling the project, the kickoff itself is planned as a major media event.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. April 12, the inaugural presentation will be televised live via satellite from the National Press Club here to 12 major cities targeted in the campaign.

The timing of the inaugural was set to coincide with two other meetings: one the American Society of News Editors at a nearby hotel, the other a gathering of Associated Press editors at the club itself.

Some of the airline industry's best-known executives have committed to participating in the kickoff, including Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher, Robert Crandall, chairman and CEO of AMR Corp. and American Airlines, and Ed Colodny, chairman and CEO of USAir.

After the inaugural, the campaign moves into full swing.

The coalition is currently in the process of selecting airline and other industry executives to act as spokespersons to newspaper, radio and television editorial boards in various cities.

One million copies of a brochure outlining coalition goals have been ordered for distribution to people who clip and return a coupon contained in the print ads.

Additionally, the brochures and other materials will go via a direct-mail campaign to citizens living in major aviation markets and regions represented by key lawmakers sitting on aviation committees in the Senate and House of Representatives.

During the past few weeks, Mr. Brosnahan and members of the coalition have briefed members of Congress, Transportation Secretary James Burnley, and various trade organizations.

This week Federal Aviation Administration chief Allan McArtor and others are also to receive pre-kickoff presentations.

We think out of all this we can build the consensus needed to really accomplish the kinds of fixes that will benefit everyone, stressed an executive involved in the project.