Air Transport World

Consumer revolt in Congress. (Airport and Airways Trust Fund)

Consumer revolt in Congress It's 1987, the year the United States' historic 100th Congress tackles reauthorization of the 1982 Airport and Airways Trust Fund, and the airline industry appears to be experiencing a consumer revolt. Unfortunately for the industry, the consumers most audibly in revolt are members of that Congress.

In several hearings held to date, the always-talkative legislators were particularly unabashed about bashing the airline industry. Numerous legislators questioned airlines on subjects ranging from scheduling practices, delays and baggage service to deceptive advertising and safety.

The following quotes illustrate this:

"We need to require airlines to publish records of their on-time performance so consumers have something more than just ticket prices to compare," stressed Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo).

"I'm sorry I ever voted for (airline) deregulation," stated Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va), Majority Leader said.


Although the Senate aviation subcommittee held the year's first hearings on aviation--safety being the particular focus--voices in the House of Representative echoed similar sentiments. Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) said, "I think we are going to have to re-impose some kind of regulation (on the airlines)."

But the airline industry isn't alone in suffering Congress' wrath. Legislators in both houses expressed equal dissatisfaction with the Reagan administration's refusal to seek aviation spending levels equal to those authorized in 1982 for the succeeding five years. The voices of legislative lament sound remarkably similar in both the House and the Senate, a consensus that surprised lobbyists and regulators observing hearings in both chambers.

The fact that Congress is expressing so much ire at the airlines and the administration this year could spell particular trouble for the airline industry. …

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