More Effective Use of Contract Airlift Could Reduce DOD Transportation Costs

PLRD-83-55: Published: Apr 22, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1983.

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GAO reported on the Department of Defense's (DOD) use of aircraft under contract from commercial air carriers.

GAO found that DOD is losing millions of dollars annually because of empty seats on aircraft under contract from commercial carriers. The Military Airlift Command (MAC) spent $228 million in fiscal year (FY) 1981 and about $250 million in FY 1982 to airlift military and civilian personnel on contracted international flights. GAO found that a significant number of empty seats existed on these flights. There are two major reasons for these empty seats: (1) passengers did not show up for flights as scheduled; and (2) the services apparently did not generate the volume of passengers anticipated at the time they submitted their requirements to MAC. In FY 1981, the no-show rate was 13.5 percent. In FY 1982, the no-show rate climbed to 14.7 percent. GAO estimated that empty seats caused by no-shows cost $13.5 million annually. This savings estimate was reduced to give consideration to overbookings and passengers who walk in and actually use seats that were intended for use by no-shows. In addition, GAO estimated that underutilization of seating capacity for reasons other than no-shows cost DOD another $13 million annually. At present, if authorizing orders are issued, military personnel have the option of buying tickets with their own funds, with subsequent reimbursement not to exceed the MAC tariff rate, which leaves empty seats on MAC flights.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To increase management oversight, MAC will provide OSD and each service with a report of passenger no-shows on MAC airlift. Actions will be initiated based on reported results.

    Recommendation: The Army, Navy, and Air Force should place greater emphasis on managing the use of MAC-provided international airlift.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To increase management oversight, MAC will provide OSD and each service with a report of passenger no-shows on MAC airlift. Actions will be initiated based on reported results.

    Recommendation: The Army, Navy, and Air Force should place greater emphasis on managing the use of MAC-provided international airlift.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To increase management oversight, MAC will provide the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and each service with a report of passenger no-shows on MAC airlift. Actions will be initiated based on reported results.

    Recommendation: The Army, Navy, and Air Force should place greater emphasis on managing the use of MAC-provided international airlift.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Increased management attention and a new reporting system for no-shows reduced the no-show level to the point where penalty billings are not needed.

    Recommendation: DOD should consider penalty billing each military service for empty seats caused by their no-shows.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD Directive 4500.9 revision was delayed to incorporate changes resulting from establishment of the U.S. Transportation Command. In the interim, DOD established and promulgated Defense policy requiring use of MAC-owned or contracted airlift when available and meets mission requirements.

    Recommendation: DOD should revise DOD Directive 4500.9 to require that the military services use the MAC airlift, where appropriate, and that order-issuing authorities be given guidance in revised travel regulations as to specific conditions under which authorized orders can be issued. In addition, DOD should consider revising the Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) provision governing civilian travelers to require them, like their military counterparts, to use the MAC-provided airlift.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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