Pacific Southwest Airlines, the California airline of low-fare fame, yesterday promised Congress to carry those low fares to consumers in other states if a law reducing federal regulation of the airline industry is enacted.
"The government should not maintain artifical legal and regulatory barriers which prohibit a carrier such as PSA from providing new services to the traveling public," Paul C. Barkley, PSA executive vice president, told the Senate Aviation Subcommittee.
PSA carried more than 6.5 million passengers last year over 34 routes in California at fares about half the Civil Aeronautics Board formula for interstate fares, and earned a profit at the same time.
"We offer no meals with filet mignon, no movies, not even peanuts," Barkley said. "But we do offer low fares, comfortable seats, simple and frequent service, reliable on-time schedules, and people like it."
If the bill sponsored by Aviation Subcommittee chairman Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) becomes law, PSA would move "on a limited, responsible basis" into other states with similar services and fares, Barkley said. The carrier now operates outside CAB jurisdiction because it does not cross state lines.
In his testimony, Barkley sought to dispel some of the claims current among opponents of a change in the 39-year-old air regulatory framework:
To answer the contention that new carriers would serve only "highdensity" markets, Barkley noted that 12 of PSA's 34 routes are "low-density" routes generating fewer than 70 passengers a day each way. Much of PSA's success stem from developing markets other carriers considered already at their maximum.
To counter claims that reduced economic regulation would affect safety adversely, Barkley noted that safety standards would be unchanged by the bill and that PSA, operating more than 85,000 flights a year, hasn't had a fatal accident in its 28-year history.
In response to charges that new carriers could charge less because they pay their employee less, Barkley noted that 70 per cent of PSA's 2,700 employees are union members.
Cannon noted that a B-727 captain get higher salaries from PSA than from American Airlines and Continental Airlines, and that licensed mechanics make more money on PSA than on Continental or United Air Lines. "I'm also impressed that you get a higher level of productivity," he added.
During yesterday's session, the third day of hearings on air regulatory reform, the first testimony was taken from some who would be affected by the proposed legislation. Not surprisingly, their points of view stem from their own particular problems:
Edward J. Driscoll, president of the National Air Carrier Association, a trade group representing the charter airlines, said he was worried that legislation might open them to "a horde of new competitiors." Driscoll urged that the charters be protected unless they get the same kind of access to the scheduled service market they think the scheduled carriers will get to the charter market. He said the charters already were carrying a dwindling share of charter traffic as the scheduled carriers have moved into charters.
Complaining about the lateness of CAB decisions on fares, the publishers of the Official Airline Guide urged Congress to include in any bill a requirement that the airlines give at least 30 days notice for fare changes and make them effective only on the 1st or the 15th of the month, which happens to "coincide" with their publishing dates.