Executives of several of the nation's smaller airlines yesterday expressed a wide range of views about Federal regulation of the airline industry as the Senate Aviation Subcommittee opened a second week of hearings on measures to reduce it:
Lewis C. Burwell, Jr., Chairman of Pinehurst Airlines, an all-cargo commuter airline, isn't regulated and doesn't want to be.
Preston H. Wilbourne, president of Air Wisconsin, a passenger and cargo commuter airline, isn't regulated and wants to be.
Charles F. Butler, president of Air New England, is regulated and sees its advantages but a lot of disadvantages too.
"I don't think anyone deserves protection," said Pinehurst's Burwell, endorsing most provisions of a bill sponsored by Subcommittee chairman Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). "Freedom of entry is the American way . . .
"If my operational integrity, my price and my marketing are good enough to make business grow where none grew before, I should be permitted to fly it wherever it starts and wherever it goes."
Bursell, 69, who described Pinehurst as "a bunch of old men flying a bunch of old airplanes and making a profit," said he testified at 1951 hearings as president of Resort Airlines to urge that "the old railroad concept . . . of the aviation founding fathers" be abandoned in favor of a system that certificates airline service that is "responsive to markets rather than geography."
In contrast to Burwell, Air Wisconsin's Wilbourne told the subcommittee his airline, which carried more than 250,000 passengers last year, nearly 6 million pounds of cargo and had aftertax profits of more than $800,000, has applied to become a federally certificated airline under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
Currently outside CAB control because it uses airplanes with 30 or fewer seats, Wilbourne complained that currently Air Wisconsin "is denied full recognition as a member of the national air transportation system.
"We want order and stability within our system; we want proper corporate planning," he said. "We will take the restrictions."
Among the benefits of federal regulation Wilbourne cited were ability to expand into markets where he could get federal subsidies, eligibility for the government's loan program for financing-aircraft (although he admitted he had no trouble getting financing from banks now), more exposure for his schedules and services in airline publications, and benefits of CAB joint fare provisions.
Air Wisconsin serves nine communities in six states in the upper Midwest.
Butler said Air New England, which serves four New England states and New York City, wasn't "dissatisfied on the whole with the burden" certification as a federal carrier brought in 1975 but complained about "the costs of lost opportunities occasioned by the inability to adjust to current market conditions" imposed by the "rigidities" of the CAB's regulation.
"When Air New England was certificated, our route system was frozen in accordance with the route description contained in our certificate," he said. "We are not permitted to provide scheduled services outside of the routes contained in the certificate.
"One of the greatest flexibilities that we had as a commuter was eliminated."
While the certificate gave "route protection" from other certificated carriers, most of Air New England's competition comes from the unregulated commuters, he noted. "Because we are literally frozen in our routes, we cannot provide a competitive response to our commuter friends even though they are free to move in on the routes which we serve.
The commuters also can raise and lower their fares at will, he noted, while Air New England must apply to the CAB for fare changes. "Every time we want to lower or raise a fare or change a rule, we must spend a great deal of time, money and effort, no matter how simple our proposal might me," Butler said.
Butler strongly opposed a measure proposed by the CAB under which it would be given a great deal of discretion to guide the transition from regulation to more competition. If the measure goes through, he said, "I suggest the Department of Defense move out of the Pentagon; the CAB is going to need that building."
In other testimony Jack Shafer, former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, endorsed reducing regulation of the airline industry, which he called "a well-formed giant still wrapped in swaddling clothes.
"Let it fly . . .," he said.