CBS Blames Recently Bankrupt Airline for Being Stingy

     Who’s to blame for flight delays? Certainly not faulty government programs, says the “CBS Evening News.”

      “Sheer misery … passengers on arriving planes couldn’t get off, stuck on taxi ways for up to six hours with little or no food and frayed nerves,” Reporter Randall Pinkston began.

     CBS’s August 12 story hit hard at airline performance after more than 20,000 passengers at Los Angeles International Airport were stranded due to a U.S. Customs computer glitch. Reporter Randall Pinkston used that nightmare to charge that the airlines should be providing better service to passengers.

     Pinkston’s source, aviation reporter and analyst Jim Tilmon, suggested that airlines could put passengers “in a designated parking area” with water and food.

     Pinkston said that it would cost airlines more money to provide this service but said “airline analysts say [the airlines] can afford it,” pointing to Northwest Airlines’ $2 billion profit.

     No one from Northwest – or the airline industry, for that matter – was included in the report. And Pinkston failed to mention that $2 billion profit came after Northwest’s bankruptcy in 2005, emergence in May 2007 and only recent profit reported on July 31.

     According to the Associated Press, Northwest also had to deal with “operating problems” under bankruptcy status, namely “providing enough pilots for its planes,” a problem that the airline said cost $25 million during the second quarter alone.

     According to today’s Wall Street Journal, the Air Traffic Control system “approached gridlock early this summer, with more than 30% of June flights late, by an average of 62 minutes.”

     The Journal also said that even though regulators and the head of the Federal Aviation Administration have pushed for larger planes to consolidate flights, there are two problems with the upgrade: “One is that airlines like having more flights with smaller jets and the other is that passengers like it, too.”

     The Houston Chronicle pointed out in an editorial August 11 that building more runways for the small planes isn’t going to help matters either, unless the “ancient, undermaintained radar tracking system cannot be tweaked so more controllers can handle more traffic.”

     Furthermore, the Chronicle said, “[investing] in a new, digital, satellite-based air traffic control system” is essential “if the United States is to keep up with the growth in air travel and cargo.”