Ben Mutzabaugh reports that politicians are wasting no time trying to horn in on the merger discussions currently underway at major airlines. The man from my former congressional district, Steve Cohen (pictured at right), has called for join Transportation Committee and Judiciary Committee meetings to address a potential Delta-Northwest tie-up. What Congress really wants to do, of course, is gang up on the airline execs for any number of slight issues. This time last year, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on industry consolidation at which they peppered Delta and US Airways’ CEOs with ill-informed criticisms. Remember, these are the same folks who think it’s a good idea to subsidize flights to Show Low, Arizona. The Senate hearing included these gems:
- “As much as I believe that regulating the airline industry again is necessary, I recognize that we are not going back. . . . However, I am becoming increasingly convinced that some regulation may become an option to make sure small communities are not harmed by consolidation.” –Senator Jay Rockefeller
- “All travelers should expect high-quality service when they buy a ticket and get on an air plane.” –Senator Frank Lautenberg
Last summer, I attended a House subcommittee hearing on flight delays. There was far more hectoring by the members than there was testimony by the witnesses. Should mergers go forward, these hearings will be trials for airline execs and C-SPAN-worthy for the congressmen.
As for the aviation journalists, wonks, and bloggers? I expect these hearings to be great fun.
Politicians try to get out ahead of airline mergers [Today in the Sky]
Photo credit: Office of Congressman Steve Cohen