It has just been announced that Delta will once again be joining the largest lobbying group for US airlines.
Delta Rejoins “Airlines For America”
Delta will be rejoining Airlines for America (A4A) in 2020, which is the largest industry trade organization for US airlines.
What makes this noteworthy is that Delta left Airlines for America in 2016, though we’ll talk more about that in a bit.
With rejoining this group, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has said the following:
“Delta and our employees look forward to rejoining A4A and working jointly with other airline members to address issues that impact our people, our customers and the communities we serve. We are committed to the future of commercial aviation, and will work together with A4A to support priorities like promoting sustainability initiatives, fighting unnecessary passenger taxes and advocating for policies that enhance the travel experience.”
Meanwhile Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio has said the following:
“A4A and our members are pleased to welcome Delta back to the association. We are a stronger association with Delta as a member. As an industry organization, we work collaboratively in the best interests of our members as well as the customers and communities they serve. We are more effective advocates for the traveling and shipping public when we speak with a unified industry voice.”
Delta is joining Alaska, American, Atlas Air, FedEx, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United, UPS, and Air Canada, in belonging to the organization.
Why Did Delta Leave Airlines For America?
Delta decided to leave Airlines for America in April 2016, stating that the $5 million they spent in dues annually could be better spent to support “what [they] believe is a more efficient way of communicating in Washington on issues that are important to Delta customers and employees.”
Delta felt that Airlines for America “failed to support [them] on several key issues,” while Airlines for America said that Delta had “not been aligned with other A4A members on a few key industry positions.”
So, what did Delta and Airlines for America disagree on? Among other things:
- Airlines for America wasn’t as strong against the Gulf carriers as Delta was
- Most airlines supported air traffic control modernization and privatization, which Delta opposed, fearing it would disrupt the progress that the FAA had made with improving technology and making flying more efficient; Delta changed their stance on this, and starting in 2017 was no longer opposed to privatizing air traffic control
Delta is known for doing what’s best for Delta. That’s fair enough, given that they’re a publicly-traded company that has to maximize shareholder value. However, Delta goes about that in a much more ruthless way than some other airlines (and I actually don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily).
For example, they’re a founding member of SkyTeam, but they’ve increasingly deemphasized the importance of the alliance, and as they’ve acquired stakes in more airlines, they’ve made no effort to have those airlines join SkyTeam.
That’s to say that Delta doesn’t just do things because other airlines are doing them. They do things because they think they’re in Delta’s best interest.
So I imagine there’s some angle with which Delta is approaching this, and it will be interesting to watch what Airlines for America advocates in the coming months.
While a few million dollars in annual dues isn’t a lot for an airline the size of Delta, I’m still certain they wouldn’t be joining if they didn’t have an agenda.
What do you make of Delta rejoining Airlines for America?