Fewer Flights Would Mean Higher Fares
While he admits if airlines do
nothing about schedule delays, "the problem will simply continue to
compound," Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland said frugal
passengers will likely feel another sting... this one in their
In an interview with USA Today, Steenland said he favors an
industry-wide agreement to trim flight schedules at the country's
busiest airports, as put forth last week in a
speech by outgoing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey.
But there would be a price to pay -- for customers, of
course -- as Steenland says airlines will answer to forced cuts to
capacity with higher air faresid. If that scenario sounds like a
win-win for an airline -- to make more money with fewer aircraft --
well, you're not wrong.
Steenland put an altruistic spin on the situation, though,
saying airlines must "recognize the reality that some of our
airports have reached their capacities."
"We're not likely to see a lot more runway space or terminal
space at lot of these airports, so congestion is going to be a
long-term issue for this country," he added.
A recent US Bureau of Transportation Statistics report backs
that up, claiming 1.1 million delayed flights through the first
seven months of 2007. That works out to almost three of every 10
flights arrived at least 15 minutes later than scheduled. So,
clearly, a fix is needed.
Such a solution won't be easy, however. Any agreement among the
nation's airlines would have to pass muster with anti-trust
concerns... assuming the affected carriers could agree on how many
flights each would cut in the first place.
Steenland also claimed corporate aviation would have to agree to
schedule cuts, as well... an idea that's not likely to find much
favor among private operators.