Monday, May 19, 2008

Another reason airlines are destined to fail

A JP Morgan analyst noted that bankruptcy of a major air carrier is a matter of "when not if." Reasons given are high fuel costs and competition. There are, however, other reasons which are seldom discussed because (a) the liberal media refuses to offend a key Democrat constituency and (b) it is easier to take a mental shortcut and blame all problems on big business or big oil than it is to do the tough work of actually thinking.

The problem to which I am referring is labor unions. A recent trip on a major airline was instructive for me. After the cabin door was closed, we were told that the flight would be delayed "a short while" so that a small repair could be made. The plane could not take off because one of the latches that holds the "tray table in the upright position" was broken. [Whether the FAA ought to be regulating such things is for another discussion.] Of course, they had to call a union mechanic to get the job done. My understanding was that the fix was duct tape that could have been applied by anyone. OK, so what's my problem with this? A mechanic's union worker had to do the job. The attendants and pilots are undoubtedly prohibited from doing those jobs because the mechanics' union would be filing grievances in protest if anyone other than a union worker made the fix. Of course, they are willing accomplices in this scheme, because they play by the same silly rules in their own unions.

What should have been a two minute delay by a flight attendant with some duct tape turned into a nearly forty minute delay. This was for an Atlanta-bound flight. How many people missed their connections because of this? Do these morons not understand that if the plane flies when the seats are empty, those revenues are gone forever? Those who missed connections probably caused others to get bumped from flights and most likely resulted in some seats on future flights not being able to be sold. This also resulted in minutes lost in valuable flight duty time for the pilots such that they may not have been able to take a subsequent flight in the same day. It probably resulted in some overtime (or at least wasted time) for the flight attendants and other employees. There is undoubtedly a ripple effect from silliness like this and it is no wonder that airlines fail when you see such stupidity by the unions. It was only about a month ago that we heard carping because Delta did not consult its baggage handlers before announcing a potential merger with Northwest. What are these people thinking?



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