The US Department of Justice is back in aviation. This time, it’s investigating the US passenger airlines, concerned that they have been signalling to each other about capacity. Surprisingly, given IATA’s strict rules (in cargo at least), the DoJ says that the airlines spoke publicly about capacity discipline at the IATA AGM in Miami last month, which was, according to one senator “highly troubling”. They have also been accused of cosying up to Wall St, talking about capacity discipline to analysts who then relay it to other airlines. Whether that is intentional or not is hardly the point – by now, major airlines really should know the rules. Compliance should be second nature.
The US carriers are not making themselves look good at the moment. Wherever you stand on the Gulf carrier issue, US protectionism appears to be alive and well. The news that ExIm financing is suspended may be good for the major US carriers, but not for anybody else – not least the US small businesses that accounted for 89% of transactions last year. There is an excellent article on CAPA about the issue, concluding that its suspension is ideological, with “negligible real world rationale”. As Boeing has said, if its Boeing Capital Corp is all that’s left to finance those customers for whom commercial funding is out of reach, it restricts the amount of research and development the manufacturer can do – which is not good for the airline industry.