Smisek to Washington: Step aside

step aside.jpgContinental’s CEO Jeff Smisek has a simple message to the US government — Get out of the way.

Responding candidly and colourfully to a question about the relationship between industry and Washington during the recent JP Morgan Aviation, Defense and Transportation conference Smisek’s answer was:

 ”What I’d like them to do is just leave us alone for a while, because every time they try to make things better, they make things worse.”

Staying spirited about Washington’s role in industry Smisek quips:

“The day I rely on government to help this industry, you should make sure I get fired.”

A new rule effective 29 April in the USA requiring carriers to deplane passengers if an aircraft is on a tarmac longer than three hours draws particular ire from Smisek.

“That is solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Long tarmac delays are extremely rare. They do occur, there’s no question about it. But having a rule that requires us to cancel flights at three hours or suffer a fine of $27,500 per passenger is inane. The reason they [the aircraft] are on the ground is that we use the very finest 1950s ground-based technology. So the government sticks us on the ground because they refuse to invest in the highways in the sky, and then they fine us as a result.”

I think it’s safe to say we know where he stands.  (photo credit wheelmaker on flickr)


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