Thursday, December 8, 2011

Former airline advisor thinks airline bailouts are needed

Gizmodo's coverage of the problems with the TSA is great. They are feeding off of an article written by a former Delta advisor, Ben Brandt. Here are some of the good points Brandt makes:
...feds should be less concerned with what gels your aunt puts in her carry-on, and more concerned about lax screening for terrorist sympathizers among the airlines' own work force... it's cost $56 billion since 9/11... [bombs have been] detonated before going through security...and shipped..."The scientific community is divided as to whether behavioral detection of terrorists is viable,"...most aviation-focused attacks are likely to originate outside the U.S.
But, Brandt's solution is, well, dumb: "Brandt proposes that the government subsidize airlines for better employee background checks or explosives detection tech."

If the government would get out of the air-travel business, then airlines would have every incentive in the world to institute "better employee background checks" as well as "explosives detection tech." It's called the profit motive. Right now, when an airline makes money, they keep the riches. But if someone crashes one of their planes, they get bailed out by the feds. On top of that, the feds have taken pretty much all of the responsibility and cost for screening for threats.

But this is unsustainable. The price tag for fed-run security and taxpayer-subsidized airlines keeps going up and service keeps going down. It will be better for us all if the umbilical cord is cut now. Otherwise, we'll be dragging a dead industry around, allowing it to slowly kill the transportation industry as has been happening with railroads for decades.