In what may be an unprecedented show of unity for a lobbying effort, 12 U.S. based airlines (AirTran, Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways) are asking their passengers to talk to Congress about getting oil prices under control.
We first noticed this in a mass email from AirTran & Delta to its customers; the subject line was “You Can Help Keep Travel Affordable” (and we understand similar emails have been sent to the customers of other carriers — PDF version of the letter at this link).
The “open letter” directs us to a website called StopOilSpeculationNow. Once there, an email is ready to be sent to our representatives in D.C. — all it awaits is a signature.
Airlines talking points? See a different viewpoint on this matter? Keep reading…
For the airline CEO’s, the oil crisis seems pretty simple; according to the message to their customers, they blame “speculators”. Here’s a quote from that message:
“Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.” — Open letter signed by 12 airline CEO’s
I was recently at a bloggers summit at the Department of Transportation (DOT) — long at odds with U.S. airlines on several issues — and posed this very question about oil speculation when prices were at $120/barrel — surprisingly DOT agrees with the U.S. airlines on the issue of oil speculation and for the most part on the remedies.
Sounds Simple, huh? Or…is it?
Take a look at this article from the well respected weekly “Economist” titled, “Don’t Blame the Speculators”. The article and comments dissecting the content with point and counter-point are some the best debate I have read on the issue — the articles central argument is that:
“politicians who try to make oil cheaper by restraining speculation will just make things worse.”
Nothing is simple about the current oil crisis, and I strongly suspect there are no simple solutions including mass emails to Senators and U.S. Representatives. But I also think the fact that the airlines are banding together in this manner to try something shows the true gravity of the situation.
My sincere hope is that the U.S. aviation system — some day in the near future — after oil issues have quelled — will show similar unity at solving core issues with customer service/satisfaction — so we all can get back to what we love to do — fly.