These United States mark Presidents’ Day today, commemorating the birthdays of two of the greatest, George ‘Father of his Country’ Washington and Abraham ‘Preserver of the Union’ Lincoln. It’s a big day this year as these same United States prepare to electtheir next president. One of the people who wants very much to become the forty-fourth president said the other day that when she’s the chief executive, she’ll be very wary of the airline mergers and consolidation possibilities that are getting almost as much public attention as her race against Barack Obama, the Illinois senator who is leading Mrs. Clinton (right) just now. Both are eagerly courting the blue-collar and union vote, and both are seeking to reassure working Americans that they would protect their jobs against the ravages of corporate bosses and other capitalist predations. Indeed, Obama has expressed scepticism about mergers of any kind. It’s interesting that airline issues even make it onto the candidates’ radar screens, but there’s a sharp up-tick in interest in the issue in the capital city and Washington is becoming quite exercised about possible consumer dissatisfaction and other possible fallout from airline mergers. Someone you know can be heard here talking about this phenomenon on an IAG podcast.
The House transportation committee chairman, Jim Oberstar (not to the left, that's Obama), is strident in his opposition to mergers, especially any that damages Northwest, a major employer in his home state of Minnesota. Meanwhile, members of his committee from both parties are preparing a letter to send to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Attorney-General Michael Mukasey “to express concerns about potential airline mergers.” They tell these two decision-makers that they oppose proposals that are “based solely on corporate interest. Rather, any consolidation must promote and protect the interests of airline employees and the American flying public.”