The US Domestic Airline System Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?
As aviation infrastructure – on the ground and in the air – appears stuck in a time warp, the future of US domestic aviation looks perplexing. Funding for airport improvement, in what the President has described as often “third world” airport standards, has not been forthcoming. Despite much talk, there appears to be little progress towards finding adequate methods or resources to supplement an already complex funding system, compounded by federal-state bickering and taxes that are both unhelpful and unproductive.
Air Traffic Control financing has been a political football for years and, despite universal agreement on the need for radical improvement, little traction is being achieved. These constraints inevitably impact on market access, and in turn on the competitive environment in congested markets. Eximbank funding has also suffered from political duelling, at the same time as foreign Export Credit Agencies have remained active. And, although international financing conditions have fortunately remained reasonably benign, US OEMs are placed at a disadvantage for no sound reason.
Meanwhile too, many medium sized communities have become disconnected as airline consolidation has reduced them to outposts, impacting their local economies. At a time when aircraft orders are booming and the US airline industry is more profitable than it has ever been, the time is ripe for a more comprehensive look at the overall system to make sure it better fits the needs of the industry, consumers and local communities.
The discussion will seek to draw out the key underlying problems with today’s system and look to ways of “fixing” it. For example:
- Are US airline and airport infrastructure and service levels appropriate to what US consumers and communities should expect?
- What impact does this have for airlines on the competitive access environment?
- What funding solutions can be learned from overseas experience to improve standards?
- What steps can be taken to help medium sized airports recover connectivity?
- Should Eximbank funding be reinstated?
- Would a national aviation policy be of value?
Moderator: Trinder Aviation & Aerospace Advocacy, PLLC, President & CEO, Rachel Trinder
- Fisher College of Business, Executive-in-Residence, Nawal Taneja
- InterVISTAS Consulting, Executive Consultant, Kenneth Currie
- Southwest Airlines, Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer, Andrew Watterson
- Spirit Airlines, Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Matt Klein