May 11 - Dear Mr. President Re Consumer Protections


President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

If your followers could see first hand how airlines and Washington work together to harm their interests they would not be upset, but rather, white-hot-mad. Consumers should represent the “North Star” when it comes to national aviation and competition policy development. We encourage you to work with Democratic and Republican, pro-consumer Members of Congress during this year’s FAA reauthorization process to put consumers’ interests first. Consider the following examples of how airline consumers are harmed every day.

COMMERCIAL PROTECTIONISM

Having secured antitrust immunity for their global alliances and achieved control over vast swaths of the U.S domestic airline market, the major U.S. network airlines continue endeavoring to raise the marketplace drawbridge and create an aviation Fortress America where they profit on the backs of consumers. These airlines are trying to dictate to the U.S. Government, and all other stakeholders, adoption of a self-serving public policy that is designed to shelter them from vigorous international airline competition. They are collectively calling for the U.S. to roll back access to the U.S. marketplace for foreign carriers that offer superior customer service, newer airplanes, faster connections and more destinations.

CONSUMER PROTECTIONS

With broad Democratic and Republican support Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill last summer in response to airlines’ objections to a 2012 U.S. DOT rule that requires airlines to prominently display total ticket prices in advertising. The amendment, expected again during the upcoming reauthorization would reverse an important consumer-protection rule adopted as a cure to bait-and-switch advertising and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.

AIRLINE ACCOUNTABILITY

Unlike other consumer-facing industries, when consumers are economically harmed by unfair and deceptive airline practices they and their State Attorneys General have no right to sue to recover damages. Instead, airlines face fines for consumer abuses that the U.S. DOT decides to pursue. U.S. airlines had 2014 revenue of $169 billion and civil penalties imposed of $2.7 million. Because the civil penalties are minuscule, and as airlines are immunized from the threat of lawsuits, they are free to trample upon consumers’ rights and interests. We painfully saw this with United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines recently. When it deregulated the airline industry, Congress never intended that consumers would not have a private right of action. However, it should be no surprise that airlines fight hammer and tongs to maintain their privileged and unique position.

Thank you for all that you do in support of American jobs, robust competition and the consumer.

Sincerely,

Kevin Mitchell

Founder

Business Travel Coalition; OpenSkies.travel

 

COPIES

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon

Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway

Special Assistant to the President D.J. Gribbin

Members of the U.S. Congress

 

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