Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton authored a well-intentioned column on balancing the need to support the businesses that drive our economy while providing consumers with the service and options they deserve and expect.
We agree, and are doing just that—providing safe and efficient air travel at prices that have never been more affordable. But Secretary Clinton is wrong when she claims that prices are too high and that airline consolidation has been bad for consumers.
In the last year, airfare has fallen 3.9 percent, and in August, it was down 7 percent year over year, making air travel one of the most cost-efficient travel options, in addition to being incredibly safe and convenient.
In approving the last four airline mergers, the Department of Justice found that consumers benefit from strong networks, improved efficiencies and new and increased service.
Because of these mergers and the work our members have done to meet customer expectations, we’ve been able to buy new airplanes, restore and increase air service levels and add new routes, all in the context of a dynamic, competitive environment and contracting revenues.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen competition between airlines increase in many of the major U.S. metro markets. Low cost carrier service is the fastest growing segment of the industry and competition between the major airlines has led to more routes and better services, directly benefiting our passengers.
Secretary Clinton makes the point: “It’s good for our economy when companies prosper by innovating, creating new products and investing in their workers.” She is right. And that is exactly what airlines are doing.
Airlines are reinvesting an average of $1.4 billion each month into the passenger experience. It’s because of these investments that consumers have options like Wi-Fi connectivity, device chargers, better in-flight entertainment and newer, larger planes. Airlines’ improving financial performance continues to bolster the overall U.S. economy as evidenced by the 21 straight months of employment gains and the more than $3.1 billion per month airlines are spending on employee wages and benefits.
We agree with Secretary Clinton that innovation, investment, customer choice and competition are the building blocks to making our economy stronger. Airlines, and our 400,000 employees, are working every day to make that happen. The political convenience of criticizing our industry simply does not reflect the positive force we play in the global economy on a daily basis.