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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

A Case for Nationalizing US Airlines

•, By Sam Pizzigati

For America's rich and powerful, the new year is beginning in a most inauspicious fashion. Millions of Americans are once again fuming at the greed and grasping of those with the deepest pockets.

That fuming — from would-be passengers of Southwest Airlines and their families — filled airports during this past holiday week. For good reason. At the height of the travel-heavy holidays, Southwest was canceling 60 percent of the airline's daily flights. Over 15,000 Southwest planes never lifted off.

Late December's heavy dose of stormy weather certainly did set the stage for Southwest's holiday meltdown. But Southwest can't put the blame for the airline's massive melt on the cold, wind, and snow. Other airlines delivered, amid the same winter weather, far better service.

So what did Southwest in? The airline's top executives, analysts point out, have spent years underinvesting in needed new technology. One telling example: This past November, a generation into the electronic age, Southwest officials acknowledged that the airline was still delivering weather and baggage reports to pilots and gate managers on paper.

"It almost became a running joke around the company," said Lyn Montgomery, Southwest's flight attendant union president, "that we aren't able to make certain changes because it would involve technology."