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Delta CEO Pushes For National Airline Policy That Lets 'Free Market Work'

Jun 6, 2012 (All Things Considered)

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Delta Air Llines CEO Richard Anderson.

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"Airlines are expecting a banner year," NPR's Yuki Noguchi is due to report on All Things Considered later today.

More planes are flying with full passenger loads, as any frequent flier will tell you. Mergers have helped cut costs. Ticket prices are up. Airlines are charging fees for bags. Fuel costs have eased a bit.

In these relatively good times, what does an airline CEO want?

"We're advocating that the U.S. government ... get serious about adopting a national airline policy," Delta Air Lines' Richard Anderson told All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel this afternoon.

That's not to say airlines want more regulation. What they're looking for, Anderson said, are fixes to the air traffic control system, a reduction in "the tax burden on the industry" and a emphasis on letting the free market dictate where their industry heads. In his view, China and other competing nations have national policies and the U.S. needs to respond in kind.

Oh, and those baggage fees that airlines have added in recent years? Delta's "cost of transporting bags is in the hundreds of millions of dollars" annually, Anderson said. There's the fuel it takes to carry bags, the infrastructure required to move them and track them, and the "thousands of employees we hire." It is "a significant cost" that the airlines need to recoup, he said.

Much more of Robert's conversation with Anderson is due on All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. We'll add the as-broadcast version of the interview to the top of this post after it airs.

From related stories:

— Delta "collected an industry-leading $767 million in reservation cancellation and change fees, and another $863 million in baggage fees" in 2011. (Time Moneyland)

— "Starting this summer major airlines may be asking you to pay to check your carry on luggage. Airlines say they have been too lenient with oversized bags, but that will come to an end." (KKTV.com)

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