March 5, 2013 | Deleted Users Posts Just Say No AA-USAir Merger = Game Over for Consumers 787 Problems Due To “Self-Inspection” Tuesday, March 5, 2013 If the American Airlines, US Airways merger succeeds, it will mean one less competitor, one less choice, in an increasingly consolidated industry. United and Continental merged, as did Delta and Northwest. TWA is long gone, acquired by American. Along the way are destroyed communities that lost hubs, jobs and service. Does Anti-Trust law come into this at all? It should. Airline mergers mean thousands of jobs lost, contractors replace union workers, retirement plans wiped out, airplanes sold, routes eliminated, quality of service plummets, safety undermined as mechanics get replaced with contract workers – yet passengers pay more while executives take golden parachutes and shareholders cash in. American Airlines plans to cut at least 14,200 jobs and void union contracts — the perks of Chapter 11. “Efficiency” is terrible both for consumers and employees. Competition is a great mechanism. Too bad we aren’t more committed to it. Chris Gash Squeezing Frequent Fliers What about my miles? As FlyersRights has been saying for months, this merger has long-term potential to be bad news for those who earn and redeem airline miles for tickets. So expect the merged American Airlines to cut back on the generosity of their frequent flyer program, introduce new fees, and make it harder to extract benefits. Game Over For Consumers “From a consumer standpoint there are few benefits to offset the negative impacts of this proposed merger that include reduced competition, higher fares and fees and diminished service to small and mid-size communities,” said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, testifying before a House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform. Mitchell included an attack on the new traveler data mining program by the IATA (International Air Transport Association), calling the New Distribution Capability (NDC) “brazen,” “shocking” and “toxic.” He added that “once NDC is established in the world’s largest aviation market, it’s lights out, game over for consumers.” Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights agreed, calling NDC “an amazing new plan adopted by IATA and all international airlines to invade customer privacy and eliminate price competion on international flights.” “A perfect storm is brewing in 2013 for air travel,” Hudson said. “If airlines have their way, this year will end the era of price competition that began 35 years ago with airline deregulation.” FlyersRights official 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 see http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f299900/299968.pdf or the Department of Justice web site. 787 Problems Due To “Self-Inspection” Boeing 787 Dreamliner airframe #8 is tugged out for takeoff departure from Paine Field in Everett, Washington in this September 27, 2011 file photo, for delivery to the 787’s first customer, All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan. Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante/Files No joke, the blockbuster story from The Seattle Times says that the FAA pretty much let Boeing attest that Boeing’s revolutionary 787 Dreamliner was safe. It’s called “self-certification” and sounds like a recipe for disaster. So Boeing tells the FAA that the Dreamliner was safe. And the FAA allows it to fly – until undeniable trouble forced the grounding. Remember, when this airplane flies again it will go into service with many airlines that have outsourced maintenance to cheap locales around the globe, again mostly unregulated. Reuters reports this all began eight years ago, US regulators substantially increased their dependence on the aircraft industry to help keep flying safe. The FAA said it would no longer directly manage routine inspection of design and manufacturing. Instead, it would focus on overseeing a self-policing program executed by the manufacturers themselves through more than 3,000 of their employees assigned to review safety on behalf of the FAA. “One thing people don’t realize is how much we rely on companies like Boeing to self-inspect and self-certify planes,” says Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Schiavo notes that while FAA inspectors participate in “key milestone events” in the design and assembly of an airplane, aircraft are “largely self-inspected” by their makers. “People assume the FAA is at every point in the assembly line,” she says. “They’re not.” Outrage of the Week! Last week a FlyersRights member wrote to us about an incredible situation with United. In his own words: I bought a ticket on United for my daughter and used miles to make it a Business Class Ticket. She had an assigned seat in First Class (LAX to DC). At the airport they told her they had overbooked and “bumped?” her to coach. They gave her a $350 voucher and said they would reimburse me the miles. She tried to refuse but they said she had no choice. In a followup update: I spoke to someone at the United Gold Desk who couldn’t defend it. Said she would send in an inquiry. FlyersRights’ Great Partnerships! Flybag™ – the must-have TSA-compliant toiletry kit for the efficient traveler. Enter code: ISTILLFLY and you’ll receive one dollar off AND another dollar will be donated to FlyersRights! For more info, visit Flybags.com. Visit the FlyersRights online wine shop! A wonderful glass of wine AND supportairline travelers everywhere. You can’t miss with any of these wines. Final Word: FlyersRights is there for you. We stand up against the airline schemes. But we cannot succeed without more financial and volunteer support to block airline lobbyists from getting the federal government to approve their carefully laid plans to eliminate airfare price competition. If you like how energy companies and OPEC compete to lower gasoline prices for motorists, you will like what the airlines have in store for passengers. Otherwise not.