Air Transport World

CAB: can this agency be saved? The board's mandate to serve the public is being lost in the quest for a 12% rate of return, and the advocates of deregulation are marshaling ammunition.(Opinion 1975)(Civil Aeronautics Board)

If you believe in air transportation regulation, then you must be getting bad vibrations these days. Just when (1) air transportation is reaching a new stage of its development, (2) the "get the regulatory agency" mood has once again hit Washington, and (3) the Executive Branch is trying to move into hitherto untapped airline waters, the CAB is suffering from weak leadership, a too-cozy relationship with industry, excessive politics, low morale and an appalling lack of air transportation knowledge within the top staff.

In the past, the Board has managed to rise above the normal performance standards by which regulatory agencies are measured. Particularly during what could be called the "Golden Age" at the Board in the mid-1960s, the agency had a reputation for strong and dynamic leadership, staff excellence, fairness in attempting to meet both public interest and industry needs.

But since the glory days, the credibility of the CAB has reached its nadir, according to knowledgeable Washington observers.

Alan Boyd was famous for his independent decision-making, for casting tie-breaking votes that didn't always follow his normal political bent. Integrity of staff appointments from political pressure, and staff competence, were also hallmarks of the Boyd Board.

Charles Murphy, the strongest of the agency's chairmen, of course was famous for his 5-0 votes. His philosophy of regulation: low rates, increased competition and service to the public. …

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