Want To End Oil Speculation... And Possibly
A few weeks ago, retired American
Airlines Chairman Bob Crandall called for the US government to get
involved in the current aviation industry crisis. Crandall stopped
short of calling for a return to full-on industry regulation,
pre-1978-style... but some other industry voices aren't being so
The Christian Science Monitor reports a variety of specific
ideas have been offered by industry execs and analysts, but there
is agreement that Washington and the two presidential candidates
need to take action now to avert an airline industry collapse.
Crandall is among them. "Unless something is done to move toward
some kind of fix, we're going to see every one of our major
airlines in bankruptcy," he said. "If that isn't enough of a crisis
to alert everybody, then I don't know what it will take."
Aside from the general negative impact on the economy of
airlines cutting back or collapsing, a Business Travel Coalition
study estimates that 100 regional and 50 major airports nationwide
will lose some of or all their air service by the end of the
Some industry observers want federal regulation to make a
comeback, but in general, the airlines don't want that.
Representatives of the major carriers urged Congress this week to
act against oil speculators some believe have played a major role
in spiking oil proces.
David Castelveter of the Air Transport Association admits that's
a short-term measure. "In the long term, we'd like to see the
modernization of the air-traffic control system so we can continue
to find ways to reduce our fuel burn," he said.
Analyst Michael Boyd invokes a popular metaphor in arguing
against any attempt to reimpose regulation.
"Once you let that camel's nose in the tent, it's going to set
up housekeeping," he said. "Deregulation has worked OK, and the
airlines will adjust to these oil prices. We can get through
The next few months should determine who's right.