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The debate over air-travel issues continues, with the latest round of finger-pointing turning to the U.S. government. The federal government's "staggering failure" to invest more in airports, planes and air-traffic control systems is behind the growing problems of flying in America, one advocate claims.

The federal Transportation Department reports that airline delays hit record levels last year, arriving late 27.4 percent of the time. . . . More than 655 million flew last year on U.S. planes, and the number is expected to exceed 1 billion within 10 years. . . .

Federal transportation officials have recommended that the government address the growing demand with new technology and new runways, which in some cases have been held up as long as 30 years thanks to local and federal red tape.

But new investment in airports isn't the only answer. Data show that some airlines have worse on-time and cancellation records than others, suggesting internal steps should be taken.

And who's going to pay for all these new steps? Why the flying public, of course.

Whether the money comes from taxes or directly out of our wallets when we purchase a ticket, the only way these improvements can be funded is by good ol' John Q. Public. . . .

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