The president promised to help airlines fly higher.
CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Airline CEOs want to be treated better.
They’re tired of being squeezed. They’re fed up of the awful conditions in which they have to spend their hours.
You’d think they might suddenly realize that their discomfort is not unlike that of their own passengers.
Sadly, this would be a stretch — something that’s impossible to do in coach.
Unlike their own customers, airlines have somewhere to go for help. We have, after all, a new business-friendly president.
So when U.S. airline CEOs met the president on Thursday, they knew they had a chance to persuade him to help them make even more billions than the enormous billions they’re already stashing away by charging you for checked bags and, soon, for carry-ons.
There isn’t a full record yet of what was discussed in the presidential meeting.
However, a pool report offered some delicious hors d’oeuvres.
The president, for example, offered: “Let’s order the right equipment. Probably the wrong equipment cost more.”
Probably it does. And probably airlines use a lot of equipment that suits them — narrower planes — that doesn’t suit their passengers at all.
This next exchange might also delight some.
The president was told by the head of the somewhat painful Los Angeles Airport that it was the seventh largest in the world.
“We’ll make it number one,” the president replied.
The pool report continued: “Upon being informed that the Atlanta airport is the largest, POTUS remarked that he loves the state of Georgia.”
Then it was Southwest’s turn to speak.
Its CEO Gary Kelly is an interesting man who prides himself on customer service. That customer service sadly kept me at the world’s seventh-largest airport for 16 hours only last week.
Still, Kelly was most keen to get the president to “modernize the air traffic control system.” Apparently, much government money has been spent on it. This may not have been spent in the wisest of ways.
When the president asked why the airlines had allowed the government to invest in faulty systems, Kelly told him that the airlines aren’t in control of these things.
It’s odd how often airlines decide something isn’t their fault.
However, one area of enormous concern for them is that foreign airlines — such as Norwegian — are trying to take more of the international market by hiring cheaper staff and offering troublingly competitive fares.
U.S airlines aren’t too fond of competition. They seem rather keener on consolidation.
The president suggested that perhaps a pilot should run the Federal Aviation Administration. And why not?
Perhaps pilots should run the airlines too. Could it be any worse than what we have now?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.