The chief executives of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines will meet with President Donald Trump tomorrow, joining a group of airline chiefs due to meet with the new president.
American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker will miss the meeting due to a conflict with the previously-scheduled Annual Leadership Conference attended by roughly 1,600 of the carrier's employees, a spokesman says.
“Doug shares President Trump’s commitment to modernising our nation’s infrastructure and looks forward to working with his administration to ensure all Americans have access to safe and efficient air travel,” he says, adding that Parker has informed the White House of the conflict.
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) heads for both Delta and United confirm today that the airlines' respective chief executives Ed Bastian and Oscar Munoz will attend the meeting. However, neither carrier has confirmed the attendance of their respective executives.
A Southwest spokesperson confirms that its chief executive Gary Kelly will attend the meeting.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the meeting between Trump and airline chief executives on 9 February during a media briefing yesterday. He did not comment on who will attend.
Topics of discussion at the meeting are likely to include the president’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plans, which could include upgrading the US air traffic control system, as well as the on-going dispute between American, Delta and United and the big Gulf carriers over open skies and the expansion of Norwegian to the USA.
"Obviously, the president's going to want to talk about economic growth and job creation, how he's enacting orders to make sure the country's safe,” said Spicer on 7 February.
The press secretary tacitly affirmed the administration’s support for Norwegian’s expansion, saying the move is of “huge economic interest” to the country. He cited the carrier’s plans to hire US crews and buy US-built aircraft.
US labour unions have been outspoken against the granting of a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian's Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International.
In 2014, American, Delta and United filed an objection to Norwegian's application for a foreign air carrier permit for its Irish-subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) citing a need to maintain labour and social standards. Despite this, the Obama administration granted the permit in December 2016.
Story was updated to reflect Southwest's statement
Additional reporting by Stephen Trimble