Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today called on the Senate to support a National Airline Policy in order to keep U.S. airlines competitive with foreign carriers, achieve sustained profitability and add highly skilled, technical jobs in the United States.
"Airlines enable their local businesses to export goods, connect their residents to the world for business and leisure travel – and, importantly, create good-paying jobs," A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said. "We face the very real risk of U.S. airlines increasingly shifting to feeding foreign airlines at our gateways, rather than expanding their flying of lucrative international routes."
Calio detailed how passenger and cargo airlines provide a tremendous value for American businesses and consumers, and enable the U.S. economy. In 2011, the value of U.S. exports by air was 117 times the value of exports transported by sea. Commercial aviation has grown to become one of the most important drivers of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and today U.S. airlines carry about 2 million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo daily on approximately 28,000 flights.
However, for years U.S. airlines have operated under a tax, regulatory and infrastructure environment that has made it increasingly difficult to make be sustainably profitable and compete globally. If the airline industry continues to lose ground to foreign competitors, it will take a toll on the larger economy, Calio said. U.S. airlines already have reduced capacity to some international markets – the most profitable part of the business – and to a great degree, the part that subsidizes many domestic routes, particularly service to the smaller communities.
In order to stay competitive and drive further economic growth, A4A outlined the need for a National Airline Policy, which would have five core elements:
- Address the rising tax burden
- Reduce the industry's regulatory burden
- Expedite implementation of a satellite-based air traffic management system
- Expand access to global markets
- Enable the U.S. airline industry to attract investment