Association of European Airlines Shows Disregard for the Public, Earns a Cranky Jackass Award

Cranky Jackass, Government Regulation

You might have seen the Cardinal’s guest post here on Cranky a couple weeks ago on the Association of European Airlines’ (AEA) efforts to protect its member airlines despite there being little to no apparent public benefit. Well, apparently the AEA reads blogs, has no problem commenting on them, but has so little respect for them that they can’t be bothered to explain their position. And 06_09_12 jackassfor that, they have earned a Cranky Jackass award.

The Cardinal’s post was prompted by the AEA’s efforts to lobby the EU to get more access to credit for its member airlines to renew their fleets. The problem here, of course, is that if the airlines are too weak to have access to credit on their own, then they should simply have to wait to renew their fleets until they can afford it. He also criticized the AEA’s support of suspending slot rules at constrained airports so that legacy carriers could sit on their slots even if they weren’t using them. These are just a couple examples of the longstanding pattern for Europeans to want to prop up their failing carriers. Yes, I’m looking at you, Alitalia.

Apparently, the AEA didn’t like this post and they made that clear in a comment on the blog. Unfortunately, they also feel they’re so superior that they can’t be bothered to explain their position. I’m republishing their comment here:

Here in the AEA offices we fell off our seats laughing. EU institutions give preferential treatment to the AEA carriers? We wish. I’m afraid your correspondent’s insights into the European scene don’t go very deep.

We could explain, in nice easy-to-understand terms, why schedule continuity and predictability across successive timetable seasons is a Good Thing, but we can’t be bothered. If The Cardinal can’t work that out for himself, there’s not much point.

Anyway, thanks for the publicity. It’s nice to know that someone on the other side of the world has such a high opinion of our lobbying prowess. Keep believing.

It’s that second paragraph that gets me. I don’t think anyone would argue that schedule continuity and predictability are welcomed by travelers, but if legacy airlines can’t maintain that schedule continuity by actually operating their flights, then it seems quite clear to me that other carriers should be given the opportunity to use those slots if they have better uses for them.

Of course, the AEA doesn’t think it’s even worth explaining this to my readers, and for that, they should be ashamed. Do you think that blog readers are so stupid that they aren’t worth your time? You are sadly mistaken, if that’s the case, and it makes you look as out of touch as your efforts would imply. Yes, AEA, that is why you have earned the Cranky Jackass award.

I asked the Cardinal if he would like to comment, and sure enough, he did.

So AEA didn’t lobby for slot waivers and when the EU none-the-less offered them to the AEA (out of the goodness of its heart) the AEA didn’t actually accept the waivers?”

As we said, the EU has, in general, done a good job of being even-handed between LCCs and the AEA, but this is one instance in which they clearly erred on the side of the AEA. There are rules, the rules shouldn’t be waived just because AEA carriers haven’t done as good a job of keeping their financial noses clean as Ryanair, EasyJet, et al.

Amen. Maybe the AEA will actually be willing to respond to this one. If so, AEA, I’ve got a guest post with your name on it. Disagreements are always welcome here, but refusing to even enter the conversation makes you seem elitist and out of touch. Care to change that perception?

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22 comments on “Association of European Airlines Shows Disregard for the Public, Earns a Cranky Jackass Award

  1. Probably slightly off topic – but I seem to recall reading somewhere in the last week or so about Alitalia having made a profit at the operating level. Yes, that’s still quite a weak claim, but it seem Alitalia are *finally* getting their act together

  2. Brett did you write this blog just to give yourself a reason to say Alitalia….lol

    Any slot controled airport should be able to give those slots to other carriers to use if the ‘main’ slot holder doesn’t use them. Like here Saturdays have less flights so even on those days other carriers should be able to use another carriers slots if they want to offer a Saturday only flight somewhere.

    Maybe slots should be held by the airport and each airline makes a ‘reservation’ for a certain slot on a certain day. Airlines could still hold the slots they need for their normal schedules, but this gives any carrier the chance to reserve and open slot when it’s not being used.

    If an airline doesn’t use slots for normal operations, the they shouldn’t be able to hold them and not permit another carrier to use them.

  3. David wrote:

    Probably slightly off topic – but I seem to recall reading somewhere in the last week or so about Alitalia having made a profit at the operating level. Yes, that’s still quite a weak claim, but it seem Alitalia are *finally* getting their act together

    Indeed, they somehow squeaked it out. I’ve already written a post on this, and it’ll be up in this week sometime.

  4. DRG wrote:

    Who wrote that? Hardly professional writing.

    Well, the name says David Henderson on the comment. A quick Google search says he is the Manager of Information for the AEA. I can’t guarantee this isn’t a hoax, but he put his name, email address, website, and the IP address he used matches the country where the AEA is based. So I’m going to assume it was real. (Besides, why would anyone bother to pretend?)

  5. David wrote:

    Is it possible that someone from a LCC (or even the rival ELFAA !) had a hand in this ?

    Well, the IP address was from Belgium, so I’d say that ELFAA (also based in Belgium) is possible. But why would they even bother? My guess is that this is honestly just tone-deaf PR people.

  6. Thanks to David, I found a better IP lookup. It confirmed that the IP is owned by the AEA, so this appears to be legitimately from them.

  7. CF: “I don’t think anyone would argue that schedule continuity and predictability are welcomed by travelers”

    Don’t you mean “aren’t welcomed by travelers”

  8. aviator wrote:

    CF: “I don’t think anyone would argue that schedule continuity and predictability are welcomed by travelers”
    Don’t you mean “aren’t welcomed by travelers”

    I meant to say that I don’t think anyone would argue the point that schedule continuity and predictability are welcomed by travelers. In other words, schedule continuity and predictability are good.

  9. This is what happens when a public asset becomes a corporate entitlement that is protected by an arrogant government intent on prestige rather than solid economic development.

    A Vickrey auction of slots (at slot controlled airports) twice or more a year would much more efficiently allocate resources and provide far better continuity and predictability for travelers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickrey_auction

    At present, those airlines don’t want to lose those slots because they’re really assets rather than just a permission slip. Slots at airports shouldn’t be assets as the public good isn’t served. The public good being an airline serving routes to and from the airport that are market efficient. No one wants to lose an asset but very few people would hold on to a slot they couldn’t make money with if they had to pay for its use.

  10. Some moron, the David. My money contributes to his salary, and he can’t be bothered? He better start “bothering.”

  11. @ CF:
    The grammar is still off. You mean ‘I don’t think anyone would dispute.’ “Argue that” implies “support,” and the sentence makes no sense in that case.

  12. You guys are weird. Everybody else around here is posting anonymously – what have you got to hide? I give my name, tell you who I work for and – hey – you don’t believe me, you invent conspiracy theories instead. You even go in for some frankly creepy snooping just to confirm what I told you in the first place.

    Now that makes me very comfortable in your company, not.

    ‘Axelsarki’, you call me a moron and then you tell me I owe you something, and that I had “better start bothering”. If anything makes me disinclined to be bothered, that does. You know who I am, you know where I work, why don’t you drop round and we’ll discuss it face-to-face?

    I’ll argue slot waivers or any other feature of the network-carrier business model, but only on a level platform, and that’s something I clearly don’t have here. You guys stick to your prejudices and I’ll keep my counsel to myself.

    Thanks for the award. Since the words were my own and not corporate AEA, I’ll ask my boss if I can keep it for myself.

  13. David Henderson wrote:

    Everybody else around here is posting anonymously – what have you got to hide? I give my name, tell you who I work for and – hey – you don’t believe me, you invent conspiracy theories instead. You even go in for some frankly creepy snooping just to confirm what I told you in the first place.

    I find your reaction simply mind-boggling. There’s nothing creepy about trying to verify that this is actually someone from the AEA, because frankly, your behavior is quite strange. I have never seen a company’s public representative act this way in my years of blogging, so it’s the responsible thing to do to try to verify it.

    And as for Axel, I believe he’s 12 or 13 years old, so you’ll have to get his parents’ permission if you’d like to argue with him in person.

    I’ll argue slot waivers or any other feature of the network-carrier business model, but only on a level platform, and that’s something I clearly don’t have here. You guys stick to your prejudices and I’ll keep my counsel to myself.

    The floor is yours. I’ve offered you a guest post, and you clearly have decided that you’re too good for it. So that’s fine. My readers and I will continue to have a bad view of the AEA that has only been made worse by your participation. If you’d like to seriously discuss your position, you know where to find me.

  14. “You guys are weird. Everybody else around here is posting anonymously – what have you got to hide? I give my name, tell you who I work for and – hey – you don’t believe me, you invent conspiracy theories instead. You even go in for some frankly creepy snooping just to confirm what I told you in the first place.”

    Greetings David Henderson, and welcome to the Internet! It looks like you may have missed the “Internet Security” briefing presented to new members, so I’d like to take the opportunity to paraphrase a few of the points here.

    You see, the Internet provides a level of anonymity unsurpassed by most other public forums. While this can sometimes be a benefit – issues such as your race and gender can be completely disconnected from your audience’s interpretation of your message – it also leaves an open door for abuses, such as identity spoofing. When someone posts on the internet in such a way that may cause that person or organization to be viewed negatively, it is always a good idea to remember that the possibility of abuse exists, and to verify the source of the post rather than just blindly taking it at face-value. In this case, the “snooping” isn’t “creepy”, it’s a responsible way to ensure that an abuser isn’t trying to dishonestly smear someone’s reputation.

    Another feature of the Internet is its global distribution. If you put something on the Internet, almost anyone in the world can access it. Again, this can also be a benefit, but, once again, some people unfortunately abuse this too. If someone is so inclined, they can take personal information placed anywhere on the internet and use it for such criminal activities as identity theft. Therefore, posting in a forum anonymously isn’t “weird” as you seem to think, but is usually instead a method of masking personal information that may be completely irrelevant to the topic at hand in an attempt to improve personal security.

    So, to conclude, welcome David! We hope you have a fun, safe, and secure Internet experience!

  15. I sense a massive arm wrestling match like Herb Kelleher versus Kurt Herwald match of days gone by.
    And David Henderson, seriously, you should do a guest post.

  16. I sense a massive arm wrestling match like Herb Kelleher versus Kurt Herwald (Stevens Aviation) match of days gone by.
    And David Henderson, seriously, you should do a guest post.

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