Despite airline deregulation, these furloughs highlight the industry’s, sometimes beneficial and other times detrimental, continuing dependency on U.S. regulation and lawmakers.
JetBlue CEO Dave Barger candidly told participants in this morning’s first-quarter earnings call that “there are so many adjectives I could share” to describe the current delays that are “holding the traveling public hostage” this week.
JetBlue has yet to see any impact from the FAA furloughs, although the executives agreed it was too early to discuss the potential financial affects.
Barger was optimistic that something would soon change the current situation, likely prompted by a Congressional recess coming up next week. The recess creates a boundary that could affect the timeline of discussions and negotiations regarding the furloughs.
“I think on that recess it’d be interesting to see if those flights go on time,” Barger wryly says.
A terrible policy
“It’s such terrible policy. It needs to stop,” US Airways Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said yesterday on a conference call.
Furloughs and their potential impact are a priority for all U.S. airlines at the moment.
“Our top priority is to minimize the effect of the air traffic controller furloughs for our passenger,” said United CEO Jeff Smisek. “The delays are impacting 20,000 passengers a day; all of our competitors are experiencing similar affects.”
If the delays continue at the current rate, Americans would be more likely to seek out alternative forms of transportation; a trend that’s already been taking place due to ancillary fees and lengthy security checks.
“If you’re looking at a flight that’s normally an hour and the you consider the 2-hour delay, people are going to start driving or finding other means of transportation instead,” says Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s Chief Commercial Officer.