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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Delta Sinks To New Levels Of Passenger Rip-Off

As usual, Delta won the dubious honor this year of being this blog's Worst Overall Airline... again. They really just suck on every level. Turns out the service is so bad because upper management is such a bunch of greed-obsessed reactionaries. Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution went on and one about how that city's biggest carrier pulled a fast one on its customers after the right-wing ideologues in Congress shut down the FAA. The shutdown keeps the FAA from collecting about $200 million a week in ticket taxes. But instead of letting that accrue to fliers, Delta gobbled it up itself by increasing the base fares it charges.
Airlines have complained for years that taxes added to ticket prices drive up the cost of travel. But when those tax collections stopped last weekend and airlines had a rare chance to give fliers a break, most opted to keep prices the same and pocket the difference.

“It just seems like it was the perfect chance for the airlines to throw a bone in consumer satisfaction,” said CEO Rick Seaney.

“Consumers feel like they’ve been nickel-and-dimed in the past, (and) this is a windfall that wasn’t expected... “Why wouldn’t [airlines] give consumers at least half the benefit?” Seaney said.

The suspended taxes include a 7.5 percent excise tax, a $3.70 tax per flight segment and other taxes for international flights.

As the partial shutdown continued this week, some public officials have criticized the airlines’ decision, and two U.S. senators wrote a letter of complaint to Delta’s chief executive, who also is chairman of a major airline lobbying group.

Delta, as always, started whining about the high price of jet fuel. They little windfall at customers expense amounts to between $4 and $5 million a day. In the U.S. Senate, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) lashed out at their greed:
I wish I understood why the policy objections of one company-Delta Air Lines-mattered more than the livelihoods of thousands of people. Last year, the CEO of Delta made $9 million. Delta paid its top executives almost $20 million. Yet, it is fighting to make sure its employees cannot organize for fear that they may secure a few extra dollars in their paychecks. At the same time it is pushing for special interest provisions in the FAA bill, Delta announced it was abandoning air service to 26 small rural communities-leaving many of them without air service.

Delta then had the gall to announce publicly it would seek EAS subsidies to continue this service.  Maybe Mr. Anderson and his colleagues could forgo some of their salary to help subsidize this air service. Maybe they could use some of the millions of dollars they are collecting in a tax holiday windfall to pay for this service. Their actions are shameful.

Let me be clear, House Republicans and their Senate allies have thrown nearly four thousand FAA employees out of work, stopped critical airport safety projects, hurt hundreds of small businesses, and gutted the Aviation Trust Fund, all so that Delta Air Lines doesn't have to allow its employees to organize in a fair and timely manner.

The needs of one company should not dictate the safety and soundness of our aviation system. We need to pass a clean extension that will get people back to work, and businesses and their employees back to work building out critical airport infrastructure.

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