Mayor Daley is urging President Obama to bail out an airline industry that has “weathered one extraordinary challenge after another” since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In an April 10 letter to the president, Daley referred to the “precarious state of our nation’s airports and airlines” and argued that the airline industry is every bit as deserving of a federal bailout as the banking, insurance and auto industries.
“In contrast to the hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars directed to the banking and insurance industries during the past few months and the tens of billions funneled into two motor vehicle companies, federal support of the essential aviation system has been minute,” Daley wrote.
The mayor noted that 390,000 Americans were employed by major U.S. airlines at the start of this year, 20,000 fewer than a year ago. And those lucky enough to avoid the budget ax have seen their wages, hours and benefits cut, he said, adding, “They have sacrificed and they have delivered.”
Daley warned that the “hard times are not over” for an airline industry that has already survived a “precipitous drop” in air travel, stepped up security, “record-high” fuel costs and bankruptcy for some major carriers.
“Federal investments would have helped the airlines and their employees through these challenging times, dramatically improved operations efficiency and supported the difficult actions the airlines and their employees have taken to keep their industry moving forward,” he said.
“Our domestic airlines provide service to 750 million people each year and move nearly 40 billion cargo revenue ton miles on passenger aircraft and freighter airlines. This is an industry that we, in this global marketplace, should not take for granted.”
Earlier this week, Daley’s $2.5 billion plan to privatize Midway Airport died for lack of financing.
The worldwide credit crisis was largely to blame, but the drop-off in air travel didn’t help. January traffic at the Southwest Side airport was down 12 percent from a year ago, records show.