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Air Travel Complaint? Here's How An Airline CEO Might Reply

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Have you ever had the pleasure of sitting next to an airline CEO on a flight? I have. When they have to get somewhere, they actually fly on their own airline (in first class, of course, if their airline has it). I've only had the briefest of conversations. Like the time I sat next to David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue. He wasn't much interested in talking to me, which was fine I guess. (www.huffingtonpost.com) 기타...

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zcolescott
Honestly, this is what I wish every airline CEO would come out and say. Almost what I've been telling people who complain to me for some time now. Will have to bookmark this for future reference.
preacher1
Everybody wants pre deregulation service at post deregulation prices
WALLACE24
That is a fact and a dream Sir!!!
preacher1
Yeah, and that is one dream that will not change because the facts just won't allow it. Even if fuel prices went to half, the airlines would be accused of being robber barons for not passing it along. They might be able to give back some to the employess who have sacrificed, but a big part would need to go the the bank just to stay afloat.
WALLACE24
Funny you mention "robber barons" and "fuel prices" in the same paragraph! LOL
preacher1
you can pick your own poison out of that.lol
WALLACE24
Probably 90% of Americans would agree that the price of fuel is highway robbery. I am in the 90.
WALLACE24
Just like trucking, it reaks of too much capacity.
preacher1
Very true. If somebody does manage to slip in a halfway compensatory rate between 2 points, somebody will come along and cut it just for the sake of cutting it. Like a bunch of kids with the "I WANT THAT"
preacher1
And to boot, everybody has demonized Anderson for cutting capacity, but they forget that is basically what he said he was going to do when he took over,"My planes will run full" or something to that effect. That said, he is making a little bit of money and has new airplanes on order and a fair amount of labor peace, so he is doing something right.
StymieHo
Think about what SWAs success was attributed to in the 90's.... fleet standardization. Everyone wanted to kiss Herb's ass for coming up with a point to point business model with fleet standardization. The big carriers cant do this. Look at AAL. They had a mostly American made fleet for the longest time (less the Fokkers). Then they wanted to expand their European route network, but strangely enough, nobody (in the present-day EU) wanted to sell any gate space or routes. Why? Because their little spec of a country builds widgets for EADS (Airbus) and American didnt have any of those. Finally realizing they were never going to be a truly global airline without this European route network, AAL threw in the towel and put some A300s in the line-up. Next thing you know, AAL speaks 30 different languages.

And that my friends is why every major carrier have/had both Boeing and Airbus models in the stables. You wanna fly to Europe? Better go get you some A-3-somethings first.

Can you imagine what Boeing could do if they had several dozen countries' goverments pulling for/funding them?
preacher1
Zach: many would probably like to, but they are too busy kissing a** to talk.
WALLACE24
Sounds like it's the consumers fault airlines go broke. And all this time I thought it was the managements place to figure out a business model that works. Go figure!
StymieHo
Yes James, it is your fault these idiots cant read a trial balance. Since I fly SWA a few times here and there, maybe it's my fault his airline is profitable?
bnarayan1511
It's not particularly difficult to fly a limited point to point network of profitable routes without having to subsidize less popular or profitable routes. There's no doubt that Southwest has done many, many things right but I think it's disingenuous to compare them with a global airline or even a legacy domestic airline. Like I said, it's easy to say "Your'e now free to fly about the country... as long as your country comprises of one of these 30 cities."
devsfan
Just a minute..It is not the fault of SWA that other carriers insist on flying into far flung small towns which really have no business having scheduled service. In fact the only reason why US Airways flies into or out places like Gainesville FL is because the federal government( Taxpayers) pick up part of the tab. Quite frankly ,this subsidy should go the way of the Edsel. So what if someone in Waldo, Fl no longer has 20 mins to drive to Gainesville and must drive 2 hrs to fly from JAX..So what!
WALLACE24
Having routes that only make economic sense! Who would have ever thought of that? Quitting a route that is losing money! Geez, that's too complicated. I believe their thought process is that someone else will pick up the route and gain business. Can't have that.
preacher1
There is a good story over under NEW SQUAWKS that has in interview with Tom Horton of AA. As so many comments here are about CEO's, it is rather enlightening.
WALLACE24
Well you can't have an airline without pilots and you can't have a successful airline without profit. No matter the pilot deal that gets hammered out, I suspect pilots will lose jobs and the airline will shrink in size initially to be viable. I doubt just cutting expenses and debt will do the entire trick. But hey, I'm not an MBA or a CEO, thank God!
preacher1
LOL. but you are probably right on the size reduction.
IFlyUBuy
IFlyUBuy 4
Oh, and one other thing..."Get the TSA's hands out of our pants and passengers will double!"
aellison
Their pay certainly hasn't suffered at our hands.
StymieHo
This is a load of crap. This, "look at me. I sat next to the CEO" hogwash is fine, but to speculate what the man WOULD HAVE SAID HAD HE ACTUALLY SPOKEN WITH YOU is meaningless. I fly on the airline that makes sense to fly on at the time. Forget loyalty. I'm not there for the miles (although Ive racked up a few on AAL). I'm there to get from point A to point B; and real fast like. I'm not there to over-infuse the carrier's balance sheet.

There are airlines out there that make money. There are airlines out there that do not. As long as the SWAs and AZULs are out there, these other idiots can keep blaming me for losing money all they want. Gary Kelley aint complaining.

Conclusion: If you run an airline and it's losing money year-over-year; You suck running airlines. Find another hobby.
EliteAirInc
Great article, very true.
FedExCargoPilot
Maybe they should look at how airlines in Europe and Asia do business.
ToddBaldwin3
He's got some excellent points, and I agree with his assessment of the problem.
devsfan
I cannot agree more with the story. Air travel ( ok I will get flamed and I don't care) is far too cheap. If in order for the carriers to make a buck, then so what if only the higher income people can afford to fly? It is what it is.
I drive. Why? Because the cost to drive is less than the cost to fly. If it were the other way around, I'd fly.
Let the business and last minute travelers use the airlines. Fine by me.
frogman72
Sad and true, makes you think about how many airlines have closed or merged in the last ten years.
haroldrutila
This is a load of garbage. (It is huffpo, after all.) Regulation is not the solution to failing business models. You'd think in today's society people would actually recognize that, but no.

Airline mergers happened before regulation and are nothing we haven't seen before. Hardly a big deal.
devsfan
I don't think the point is re regulating the business. The point is as fares rise leisure travel falls off. One thing that is missing though....Air carriers could not care less about leisure travel. Airlines make money three ways. Business travel, Last minute bookings( full fare) and cargo.
I would speculate that if one could speak privately to the CEO's of each of the remaining legacy carriers his thoughts on leisure travel, they'd say "I wish vacationers would stay the hell off my aircraft". Or something to that effect.

[This poster has been suspended.]

StymieHo
I'm thinking Gary Kelley finished a little higher. Could be wrong, but your point is well taken. These CEOs, who are entrusted to run an efficient, profitable airline, are not very good at it, at least from where I am standing.
CDreier
How about a passenger railroad in the United States? Any way to make one profitable? I do see simalarities. Exactly how would you run a large trunk carrier and make a good profit?
devsfan
Never happen. The costs to buy the real estate just to lay the track would be astronomical. add in the political concerns. Every mayor of every podunk town along a route would want a station built in their town, And guess what? The trains would be stopping every 2 miles.
If the US had a quick clean and efficient rail system, I would use it whenever I could.
preacher1
Well, one of the things Romney has in his debt reduction thing is privatizing AMTRAK. That said, there are a whole lot of if's there, one of the biggest being that they are running on other folk's track. That was all agreed to by the RR companies when the gov't took over PAX service in 71 anyway. That would have to be continued and I think that there would have to be some cash put up, much like it was for the Airlines on directed service, at the beginning of deregulation and still for some places. If not, you will see it dry up to the trunk routes. That all said, our feelings and thoughts on a national pax RR is to give service to every little podunk town that wants service. A nationally funded RR? that should be what we would expect as part of a national infrastructue, but as aprivate venture, we could only expect what would make money.
A simpler idea would be to buy all the RR land & ROW and have users pay to use it. None of it simple but you are talking very capital intensive. I don't see it happening. I don't think they can privatize it. They may do it Quasi private like the USPS but the gov't is still owner.
WALLACE24
Pax service on RR only makes economic sense in very few markets. In the early days not everyone had autos and long trips were not without breakdowns. Today in most cases you can make better time in a car if the train stops much. Not to mention the ticket prices if the RR is truly going to be profitable. Tough business plan in all but a few markets.
preacher1
You are very correct. The Railroads realized they were losing money on pax service around 1970. well, actually, I don't know that they were losing that bad or just not making near the margin on pax that they were on freight. At that time, Airlines and all were still regulated and and the trains were looked at as serving small communities.The pax trains and their operations took so much investment and infrastructure, while maybe marginally breaking even, as you said, as the highways and other stuff started making inroads, the market just started going away. Amtrak has tried to bing a lot of it back but can't, simply becayse it's not there anymore and future efforts will probably fail too.

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