Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Delta’s FAA wish, the U.S.’s new tourism official, and Ashton Kutcher’s new investment.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Monday, January 16. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian is urging the U.S. government to increase funding for the country’s air control system, which he argues would help prevent repeats of the recent outage that disrupted more than 11,000 flights, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Bastian called on elected officials in Washington to provide more resources to the Federal Aviation Administration during Delta’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Friday. He said the increased investment in the U.S. air traffic control system would result in better service for American consumers. However, Russell writes that leaders in Congress have used the system outage to call for more accountability at the FAA and Department of Transportation instead of additional funding.

Meanwhile, Delta recorded a nearly $1.5 billion operating profit during the fourth quarter, with the Atlanta-based carrier seeing spending on premium travel increase faster than that for economy travel.

Next, the U.S. recently created an assistant secretary of travel and tourism position, marking the first time the country’s travel industry will have an official voice in federal policymaking. So what will the assistant secretary’s responsibilities be? Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam explains, among other duties, that the new tourism chief would play a key role in leveraging the sector to boost the U.S. economy.

As Habtemariam writes a high-level tourism official is an important step to promoting tourism growth, International Inbound Travel Association chairperson Peter van Berkel said a crucial part of the job will be improving U.S. competitiveness in the global tourism market. Habtemariam added the assistant secretary would also have to resolve the issue of lengthy wait times for visitor visa interviews at U.S. consulates. Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano recently said those long waits have damaged tourism to the U.S.

It’s uncertain though when those issues will be addressed, as Habtemariam reports the timeline for filing the job has not been established yet.

Finally, actor and investor Ashton Kutcher’s venture firm Sound Ventures has co-led a $15 million investment in Norway-based climate tech company Chooose, the latest chapter in his history of travel investing, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

Chooose works with airlines including British Airways, Air Canada, and Japan Airlines, with Parsons writing startups like Chooose have emerged out of the need to give companies more information about their carbon footprints. Parsons adds that Chooose, which offers sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsetting options, will use the extra capital to expand its platform.

Kutcher has previously invested in Airbnb and flight search engine Hipmunk, among other travel companies.

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Tags: delta air lines, faa, politics, skift podcast, usa

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