A Better Flight Plan

Industry Insights

A4A’s Sharon Pinkerton Discusses the State of the Airline Industry at POLITICO Panel

Airlines For America’s (A4A) Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Policy, Sharon Pinkerton, appeared on a POLITICO panel focused on the state of the airline industry in Washington, D.C. on June 12th.

The panel was part of an event featuring conversations with government leaders and aviation stakeholders on the future of the airline industry as carriers expect record demand this summer.

“Airfares are at historic lows, well below inflation,” Pinkerton said. “If you look at other goods like gas and rent – airfares are a bargain, which is why we’re going to see record travel this summer.”

A4A forecasts U.S. airlines will carry 271 million passengers this summer – up more than 6% from last year. To accommodate this demand, U.S. carriers will offer more flights this summer with 26,000 scheduled flights per day – a boost of nearly 1,400 from summer 2023.

Recent government data also shows airfares are down 9% from last year – when adjusted for inflation.

Pinkerton detailed the recently enacted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization law, highlighting how the legislation will benefit the industry as a whole.

“Mostly, our top priority, frankly, was ensuring that the system is fully staffed. And we worked very closely with [the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)] to ensure that the FAA would do maximum hiring for the next five years,” Pinkerton said. “There were other safety provisions that were obviously important – cockpit voice recorders, new technology that I think will help address runway incursions and, of course, having stable funding for five years is critical.”

Pinkerton stressed the safety of the country’s National Airspace System (NAS), saying, “Flying is absolutely safe,” but “we’re not being complacent.”

“Passengers can rest assured aviation is the safest mode of transportation,” Pinkerton added. “We’re engaging in aviation, we’re making committees to talk about new technologies to implement, we’re a participant in the commercial aviation safety team. So, we’re looking at how we can identify what are precursors to these incidents, to make sure that there’s not a pattern here or a common theme, and being proactive by doing everything we can possibly do.”

Joined by Pinkerton were Rich Santa, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA); Dr. Hassan Shahidi, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation; and Erin Witte, director of Consumer Protection at the Consumer Federation of America.

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