Critic to Cassandra: Mitchell makes the airline case


Suddenly sympathetic, a persistent critic of the airlines is taking his case, and theirs, to Capitol Hill. Although Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition is a frequent visitor to the Congress, he’s usually there to chastise the airlines if not to condemn them. But in recent days, Mitchell has become somewhat of a Cassandra, warning not of the crisis that‘s coming but of the one that‘s here and now. The other day, he released a series of studies by Airline Forecasts that predicted a possible series of liquidations in the airline industry. The top 25 carriers will spend over $28 billion more for fuel this year, and the major airlines could lose up to $9 billion over the next 12 months, says the head of the forecasting firm, professional airline pilot Vaughn Cordle.



Now, Mitchell plans to testify to the House Small Business Committee on the larger impact of failure. “The airline industry stimulates so much economic activity – much more than many people currently understand,” said Mitchell ahead of his Thursday testimony. He cited BTC members whose companies spend heavily on corporate travel, including hotels, restaurants, and rental cars, as well as on airlines.

“Airline networks are an integral part of the transport grid that supports the US economy, and without immediate action to bring down fuel costs, we face the economic equivalent of a major blackout later this year or early next,” he says. “Unlike in a blackout, however, the cabin lights may never come back on for many US airlines.”

Other than urging a crackdown on speculators who push up the price of oil, Mitchell is short on specifics. Still, his appeal goes to people outside of the industry, and that‘s who needs to know.


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3 Responses to Critic to Cassandra: Mitchell makes the airline case

  1. Kristie June 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    Though the BTC is right to sound the alarm about the current crisis hitting the airline industry, his recent report listing airports in “danger” without mentioning exactly why they were selected for the list, is discouraging and damaging. His random list included CAK, and I can tell you first hand that we are in no “danger” of losing gobs of airline service. Though no community is immune to the contraction in the industry, we have every reason to believe, and our airline partners support this, that our current airline service is stable.

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