Un-American airline stupidity


We all have read newspaper articles and heard pundits discuss the major airline malaise. Now, it is being taken to a new level, a miserable un-American level by some of the major airlines.

There has always been a rivalry between Boeing and Airbus. One is American-made and the other is European-made. Through subsidies and national investments the Europeans created an aircraft industry that has become a strong rival to Boeing.

With the current federal government loan guarantees and outright grants to the airlines, it seems that good old made-in-America aircraft are getting short shrift. Boeing is being handed the brown end of the stick.

While congressmen and senators over the past month have been strong-arming the Taiwanese into purchasing Boeing 747 commercial jets, they have been considering bail-out money to salvage US Airways, one of the biggest buyers of non-American commercial aircraft in the country. I haven’t heard any congressional uproar about forcing US Airways to “buy American.”

What seems to be happening is the unfortunate combination of continued European subsidies and low-interest loans with congressional largess that will be used to make payments on European-built airliners–a double-whammy subsidy. I know it isn’t in Boeing’s interest. It can’t be a good move for the American economy.

I don’t mind airlines purchasing Airbuses. They are fine airplanes. But, I do mind our government financing those purchases.

At the same time Delta Airlines (whose CEO has been the ringleader in begging for federal bailout money–our money), announces that they are shifting customer reservations call center operations to Mumbai, India. That’s right–not to Indiana–to INDIA! And at the same time they also announced that they are moving some of the call center operations to the Philippines–not Philadelphia–the PHILIPPINES, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

I’m feeling ill.

The airlines are slashing travel agent commissions and destroying an entire segment of the American economy and an integral sector of the U.S. travel industry. Now, they are planning to funnel millions of dollars they get from congress overseas rather than keeping the money here in the United States.

At a time they are asking their American reservation center workers to take deep cuts in pay and are laying off workers by the thousands, the major airlines are taking the money they save together with the money we are giving them and sending it out of the country.

Any worker who “voluntarily” takes a cut in pay so that their job can be undermined by workers in Asia earning pennies, needs their head examined. Wake up! Airline executives are being untruthful with their employees.

Your “voluntary” cut in pay is not helping the airline stay out of bankruptcy and saving your job. It is being spent directly on eliminating your position in the long run.

Airline customer relations and customer service are already abysmal without “outsourcing” the customer-reservations functions to a band of telephone operators in India on the South Asian subcontinent and the Philippines far across the Pacific.

Enough is enough.

Our travel agents need the help. Our aircraft industry needs the help. We as customers need the help. Sending our tax dollars overseas might be considered by some to be tantamount to treason.

Major airline executives whine about the drop in business travel every day. Then they send money overseas rather than supporting businesses that might begin traveling again. That’s just plain stupid.

Contact your congressman or congresswoman and senators. Every member of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate has a Web site and every Web site has a way to send email to the member. Write that when, and if, federal money is given to the airlines, it should be kept here in the United States to help our economy.

To find your senator and reach their Web site go to: http://www.senate.gov/senators/index.cfm

To find your congressman or congresswoman go to: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html

Let them know that the money we give to the airlines should be used in the national interest and spent here at home.

If federal money goes to the airlines it should be spent on American aircraft, on American workers and on American small businesses. That’s not too much to ask.