There Is Not Enough Intellectual Honesty Today

I just got back from Chicago visiting with Aviation Commissioner Rosie Andolino and her staff. I had planned to write about the tour I had and the sustainability initiatives they have undertaken. Then, I saw the ridiculous letter written by airline CEO’s to Congress opposing the PFC. So, I will write about Chicago in my next post 

I am always amused by airline arguments on this issue. I have previously written that any sane person would conclude that PFCs are a financing mechanism that airlines should embrace. Their shortsightedness on this just amazes me; they are arguing against their own interests. 

If the letter was just the normal illogical nonsense I wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But the letter was filled with untruths and I have to say something.

For one, the letter says the House bill’s proposal to add $2.50 to the PFC would place an additional $112 on a trip for a family of four. This is not true. (See my Letter to the Wall Street Journal.)

Simple math:  add $2.50 on each segment of a roundtrip. That’s $5 per person; $20 for the family of four. If there is a connection one or both ways it would add an additional $5 per person, $20 for the family. So, at MOST, an additional $10 per person, at MOST a total additional of $40 per family. 

Hey, that’s not even enough to cover a second checked bag at most airlines, not even enough for ONE PERSON to carry on ONE BAG on Spirit Airlines. 

The PFC all goes to projects to improve infrastructure and promote competition. (Which is a reason airlines hate it, inadequate infrastructure is a barrier to entry and impedes competition.) The bag and other taxes charged by airlines ($7.8 BILLION taken in by airlines in 2009) don’t go to anything that serves the passenger, but that airline-charged money goes to million dollar executive bonuses. 

The airline letter also says that airports have “up to” $21 billion in unrestricted cash. They know this is not true, we are working with the FAA to better define this item and the airlines have been part of the discussion. The true number is a fraction of what the airlines claim. They are counting on the fact that it is too hard to explain and so they are trying to get by with this. Saying airports have “up to” $21 billion is like saying my vertical leap is “up to” 36 inches. I guess that’s not a lie, but it isn’t intellectually honest either. 

Part of the problem in Washington today is that there is not enough intellectual honesty in our debates. This letter is a good example of that.

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