Airline Industry Leaders Gather for “The Accessible Age of Air Travel” 2018 Commercial Aviation Industry Summit

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2018 – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, hosted its sixth annual Commercial Aviation Industry Summit on Sept. 12, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Airline Deregulation Act, signed by President Carter on Oct. 24, 1978, and highlighted how that monumental legislation opened the doors to innovation, competition and consumer benefits for every American consumer who wants to fly.

A4A President and CEO Nick Calio kicked off the summit, welcoming the audience to the ‘Accessible Age’ of air travel where consumers are benefitting from an unprecedented combination of affordability and choice, while also looking to the unlimited possibility and promise of the future of commercial air travel.

“This year’s Commercial Aviation Industry Summit was the ideal forum to highlight the huge strides airlines have made since the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act,” said Calio. “Today, Americans are taking to the skies in record numbers, on new routes and to thousands of destinations around the world, thanks to deregulation. As our industry approaches this historic milestone, we celebrate the increased accessibility for all passengers and look forward to the future of air travel.”

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao headlined the event, providing an in-depth view of the industry as it stands today. The Secretary spoke to the opportunities created by airline deregulation, and efforts to embrace advancements that continue the progress of the last 40 years, while underscoring DOT’s continued support for the growth of commercial aviation. In addition, Secretary Chao announced $586 million in new airport infrastructure grant funding for airports across the United States.

Additionally, Tom Costello of NBC news sat down for a fireside chat with American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker, who also serves as Chairman of A4A’s Board of Directors, to discuss the progress the airlines have made and what the future of the industry looks like.

“With our success, what you’ll continue to see is improvements not just in the inflight product but in all aspects of our service,” said Parker. “We’re a commercial enterprise that connects people.”

The program throughout the day featured eight of the leading U.S. airline CEOs, Wall Street investors and former policymakers and key players who played a role in passage of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Some of the highlights from the Summit include:

  • Former NBC News Correspondent Bob Hager led a discussion on the creation of the Airline Deregulation Act. Hager took an in-depth look at what flying was really like for consumers before deregulation, hearing from Susan McDermott, former Committee Staff Member to Sen. Edward Kennedy; Will Ris, former Civil Aeronautics Board attorney; and Dorothy Robyn, former Clinton National Economic Council – all of whom offered a first-hand account of this monumental moment in aviation history and how it came about.
  • CNBC’s Phil LeBeau hosted an insightful discussion about how deregulatory policies have helped shape the airline industry over the past four decades. Attendees heard about the bulls and bears in this view from the street with investor experts Jamie Baker of J.P. Morgan and Mike Linenberg of Deutsche Bank.
  • UPS COO Jim Barber; Atlas Air President and CEO William Flynn; United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz; and Alaska Airlines Chairman and CEO Bradley D. Tilden joined CQ Roll Call’s Jacob Fischler for a look into exciting developments in the industry, focused specifically on how both passenger and cargo airlines continue to embrace technology to meet evolving consumer expectations and changing market demands.
  • The Summit landed with an important look at the benefits consumers enjoy today in the Accessible Age of Air Travel. CBS Correspondent Jeff Pegues hosted JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes, Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly as the group underscored the most important changes to the air travel experience thanks to deregulation; how effective policies today can lead to a stronger industry for tomorrow that supports quality jobs, builds businesses, and connects communities. Hayes, Ingram and Kelly provided insight and analysis about how everyone – including airlines, employees, investors, those who ship goods and most importantly passengers – has benefited from flying in the Accessible Age.

To learn more about why the Accessible Age of air travel is now, visit


Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.

A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.

For more information about the airline industry, visit our website and our blog, A Better Flight Plan, at

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