WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - U.S. airline company
executives, complaining that their industry is over-taxed and
over-regulated, on Wednesday called for a national airline
policy to help them shore up profits and jobs.
"Right now, we are subject to what is really a hodge-podge
of ill-thought-out regulations and taxes," said Nick Calio,
president of Airlines for America, flanked by top executives
from US Airways, Southwest and other carriers.
U.S. airlines also suffer from an outdated air traffic
control system, volatile energy prices and increased competition
from foreign carriers for international routes that help pay for
less profitable domestic routes, Calio said.
The U.S. industry lost $55 billion from 2000 to 2010 and shed
150,000 jobs, or one-third of its workforce, according to an
Airlines for America fact sheet.
The airline executives launched their campaign for a
national airline policy at an event on Tuesday evening with
lawmakers, and also met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.
Calio said that $61 of a $300 round-trip domestic ticket, or
about 20 percent, goes to pay 17 different taxes.
"The people who are flying think we are getting that money
ourselves, and we're not," Calio said.
At the same time, the industry has boosted revenues by
employing computer programs that tweak pricing instantaneously,
added fees for checked bags, on-board food and more spacious
seating, and reduced the number of empty seats by trimming
The industry plan includes repealing the commercial jet-fuel
tax, reforming costly airline regulations, modernizing air
traffic infrastructure, curbing speculation in the oil futures
market and investing in research and development.
It also proposes a number of reforms to make U.S. airlines
more competitive globally, such as limiting U.S. Export-Import
Bank financing for foreign carriers, reforming U.S. visa
policies to reduce processing times and pushing other countries
to end certain discriminatory practices.
Calio said that after recent talks with lawmakers, he was
optimistic that legislation to create a national airlines policy
would be introduced in Congress. But he declined to say who
would offer the bill or when.