Wednesday, November 25, 2009

feds pretending once more with airline industry

USAToday | For the third time in 16 years the federal government is forming a blue-ribbon panel to try to save the USA's troubled airline industry, which has racked up $58.5 billion in losses and shed 158,000 jobs this decade.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has ordered up the panel, vows it won't be "just another advisory committee."

"I am not commissioning some report to fill space on my bookshelf," he wrote on his official blog on the department's website. "This committee will make a difference. Without a financially strong aviation industry we will be unable to compete in domestic and international commerce."

But a $20 billion price tag for fixing the industry's biggest problems and a failure to implement most of the suggestions from two previous commissions have many analysts and former government officials questioning whether anything will come from this latest effort.

Aviation economist Dan Kasper, a member of the panel convened by then-president Bill Clinton in 1993, says commissions can be used as a tool by politicians who don't want to make difficult and unpopular decisions.

"These commissions are a way for politicians to show that they're interested in these issues, that they're not ignoring them, but at the same time it does not necessarily require them to anything about it," says Kasper, a consultant at LECG.