Purge The Merge
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
|Dear AA, what is Plan B?
In a major victory for pass
enger rights, the Justice Department ground stopped the $12 billion merger between US Air and American Airlines.
The antitrust lawsuit surprised everyone because the past four airline mergers were allowed to go through. We applaud this action by DOJ.
Robert Crandall is outraged
! “It’s stunning. It’s absolutely crazy,” says the flighty former president and chairman of American Airlines
Calling the government ignorant, he continues, “This is another indication that the U.S. government does not know the first thing about the aviation industry.”
“The people in Washington let things happen. And then when the consequences come along, they say, ‘Oh [expletive]! [Expletive]!’ Well, the answer is, ‘[Expletive] on you. You made a mistake. Now don’t make another one.’
FlyersRights members know that the airlines are not scraping by and they’re not “struggling to hang on,” as some media outlets like the GreenbayPressGazette
The DOJ complaint adds that airlines are now flying at capacity and generating
higher revenue and profits.
, USAir had record profits in 2012 and that AA had record revenue in its latest quarter, with $357 million in net profits. “American does not need this merger to thrive, let alone survive.”
The merger would substantially reduce competition in over 1,000 city pairs served by the two airlines, citing Charlotte, N.C.-Dallas; Charlotte-Durango, Colo.; Dallas-Philadelphia; and Kahului, Hawaii-Tampa, FL.
It would create four total monopolies including three that serve St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. And it said the merger would reduce competition on more than 1,000 routes.
In short, fares would go up across board to a new tier that would surely lock out many consumers that are barely finding a way now.
These mega giants claim that to regulate them would be disastrous for the economy, a claim which is absurd.
This merger needs to be stopped. Competition and improvement should be encouraged, not stifled.
Adam Smith’s free market requires two key conditions:
1. No individual business or small group gains enough influence to control the marketplace.
2. There are not large barriers to prevent new businesses from entering the marketplace, thereby assuring a constant flow of competition.
Neither applies to the airline industry.
While backing government intervention in the private sector isn’t always popular, there is a line where the government needs to step in to protect the consumer. FlyersRights supports the enforcement of fair business practices.
FlyersRights’ Statement on the Merger:
The proposed merger between American Airlines and USAirways should only be approved with regulation establishing national and international standards for enforceable airline passenger rights.
Due to the lack of low cost airlines in the US, we now support allowing selected foreign low cost carriers to fly domestic routes.
In sum, we believe this proposed merger of American and USAirways should be restructured or disapproved by the Justice Department, unless competition is clearly not reduced and passenger rights are well protected by new legislation and rulemaking.
As the airlines and DOT have failed this year to either to support passenger rights or restructure the merger proposal to protect competition and consumer choice at many airports, FlyersRights.org supports the lawsuits by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and several state attorneys general to block the US Airways-American Airlines merger.
We are gratified that they have largely adopted the position of FlyersRights.org, the Aviation Consumer Action Project, the Business Travel Coalition and the American Antitrust Foundation.
To view the full Complaint click here, or the Department of Justice web site.
Air travel is a unique business of which certain aspects must be regulated (safety in particular). But this limiting of competition should be offset by government oversight.
Curiously, the airlines have no problem hiding behind the government when you try to sue them in small claims court.
There is an alternative solution. The U.S. should allow certified foreign airlines to fly domestic routes in the U.S. They know what they’re doing and most of them treat their customers well.
Flying used to be pleasurable. Now we are transported like cattle
. Those cheap airfares are an illusion. Now airlines add fees to almost everything that used to be included in the higher airfares we used to pay.
It would appear that the American airline industry is going the way of the American automobile industry. Making money in the easiest way possible and not paying attention to the quality of their products.
If it weren’t for the need to maintain frequent flyer status to amass miles for upgrades and to avoid the dreaded back of the boarding line, fliers would long ago have abandoned the legacy carriers.
Perhaps AA’s backup Plan B entitled ‘DOJ Rejection’, is exactly what it wanted. The thought of US Air running AA is not something AA management cherished. They didn’t want to worry about US Air’s culture invading anyway.
Delta Wasn’t Ready When He Was
Earlier this month our inbox filled up with people sending us this story about Delta making a disabled passenger crawl off a plane last July.
D. Baraka Kanaan, of Maui, sued Delta Air Lines in Federal Court, claiming Delta’s “outrageous conduct occurred not once, but twice.”
According to the suit, the passenger had booked tickets from Maui to Nantucket, Mass., where he would be participating in a conference.
He says he called the airline weeks in advance of the trip “to confirm that he is disabled, that he would be traveling with his own wheelchair, and that he required the use of an aisle chair and lift to access the aircraft because he cannot walk.”
The complaint saysthat the Delta rep “assured him that all was noted in the company’s travel database, and that he would be received and given reasonable accommodation for his disability.”
His original flight was canceled due to weather. So he caught a flight the next day, but when it arrived at the airport, the plaintiff alleges he “was informed by one of the flight attendants that the airline did not have the required safety equipment, an ‘aisle chair’ to bring him from his seat to the airplane door; nor did they have a lift to go down the stairs from the aircraft to the tarmac to retrieve his wheelchair.”
Given that he needed this equipment to deplane, he asked the flight attendant how he was expected to exit the aircraft.
He claims that the attendant replied, “I don’t know, but we can’t get you off the plane,” even though he says there was a lift available at the neighboring gate. No effort was made by employees to inquire about the use of the lift, says the suit.
With little other option, and no one apparently willing to help, the passenger says he “was forced to crawl down the aisle of the airplane, down the stairs of the aircraft, and across the tarmac to his wheelchair without any assistance from the crew or the use of any mandated safety equipment… There were a great number of people watching.”
He says he called Delta, which offered him a $100 voucher for his troubles. The airline also promised that all arrangements would be made so that this didn’t happen again on his return trip.
Alas, after another weather-delayed flight, the passenger says when it came time to board, “he was again informed that the necessary safety equipment, an aisle chair and a lift, were unavailable, but that they ‘could provide a piece of cardboard to put down so that his clothes wouldn’t get dirty.”
The passenger says Delta was in violation of the Airline Carrier Access Act which requires planes with at least 31 passengers to “provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities by using ramps, mechanical lifts, or other suitable devices where level-entry boarding by loading bridge or mobile lounge is not available.”
Hard to believe this comes on the heels of a recent Delta incident where a disabled veteran was humiliated to tears on a 2012 flight. As well as a 2008 event where Delta made a woman with muscular dystrophy crawl off a plane.
|Kate Hanni, FlyersRights founder
|Paul Hudson, FlyersRights president
We know there’s a huge gap between certain airlines and basic humanity.
Worse, there’s a huge gap in airline policies that allows these airlines to abuse customers.
This is why we fight for passenger protections, because airlines are not willing to ensure basic rights of their passengers.
That is what the Passenger Bill of Rights is about.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.