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Airlines to Congress: Ease Up

February 28, 2012
My colleague Niraj Chokshi caught up with A4A today and writes: 

Hey Congress, lay off. 

Expect the airline industry to belabor that point this year, says Nick Calio, president of Airlines for America, which represents the nation's largest airlines.

"We're going to be saying a lot of the same things over and over again in order to drive them home," Calio said. "There's op-eds, there's ad campaigns. It's basically missing no opportunity to get the message across."

That "message" is a five-pronged national policy to increase the industry's competitiveness globally, ease its tax and regulatory burdens, modernize infrastructure, and mitigate price volatility.

After years of struggling to turn a profit--last year the industry made about a third of a cent on the dollar--the industry has cut costs "basically to the bone," Calio said. 

Now, to become sustainably profitable, the industry needs the government to lighten up.

"Members of Congress and administrations... find it very easy to use airlines as a tax collection agency," Calio said. At 17 percent, federal taxes on airline tickets are already proportionally larger than many "sin" taxes on items such as alcohol, tobacco and guns, which are taxed at roughly 10 percent, according to the A4A. 
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