Jul 28 2008

Despite Huge Subsidies, Airline Industry Shafts Workers and Customers Alike

Feature Stories | Published 28 Jul 2008, 10:29 am | Comments Off on Despite Huge Subsidies, Airline Industry Shafts Workers and Customers Alike -

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AirlinesThe House of Representatives last week passed legislation intended to separate airlines from its government oversight agency. Citing years of too-cozy-a-relationship between the airline industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the bill addresses a dangerous “revolving door” between the two groups and calls for a “whistleblower” office on safety matters. In March of this year, hundreds of aircraft with American Airlines, Delta, and Southwest were grounded for overdue safety inspections, frustrating thousands of passengers. In addition to safety, most airlines are charging passengers for every possible perk from food service, to checked-in bags. HR 6355, the “Air Service Improvement Act of 2008,” which is a Passengers’ Bill of Rights, is currently being considered by Congress.

In June a study by JD Power and Associates showed that airlines are suffering from the worst customer satisfaction in three years primarily because of poor customer service rather than high fares. Now, airline and airport workers are making the connection between poor service and bad jobs. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has a state-wide campaign to improve jobs, services and security at California airports – according to SEIU, airlines are “creating a crisis of inadequate training and equipment, low wages and lack of healthcare that is robbing airline passengers of quality service and security.” Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy released a report last week exposing the billions of tax dollars that airlines receive in government subsidies. In spite of these subsides, says LAANE, Airline CEOs have “failed to provide a fair return on the public’s investment, creating poor quality jobs and providing inadequate security and services for passengers.”

GUESTS: Carolina Briones, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, co-author of the report Shortchanged, Tim Maddox, long time airport worker, LAX Organizer with SEIU

For more information, visit www.shortchangedreport.org, www.howwasyourflight.com, and www.flyersrights.org.

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