United Airlines spent $660,000 lobbying in 1Q


WASHINGTON — United Airlines spent $660,000 in the first quarter lobbying on high-profile aviation regulation issues like rules for dealing with stranded passengers, rest for airline pilots, and restrictions on using personal electronics in the cockpit.

The lobbying disclosure by United covers the first three months of this year. During the first quarter of 2009 it spent $600,000 on lobbying.

New Transportation Department rules took effect April 29, and impose steep fines on airlines who leave passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours. Airlines had opposed the rule, and similar proposed legislation, because they said it would lead to more cancellations.

Aviation regulators have been studying what to do about fatigued pilots and requirements for pilots of regional jets. Those issues got more attention after the February 2009 crash of a Colgan Air flight. United lobbied on bills that deal with those topics.

United also lobbied on climate issues and bills that would regulate trading of commodities such as oil. Airlines have opposed cap-and-trade proposals, saying they’re essentially a tax on energy consumption. And they’ve pushed Congress to adopt tighter rules on commodities trading, because they claim that speculators have driven up the price of oil. Jet fuel is one of the largest expenses for the industry.

United also lobbied on funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

In addition to Congress, United lobbied the Transportation Department, the FAA and the White House, according to the April 19 filing with the House clerk’s Office.