Lawmaker wants 'floor' in airline standards

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore.) expresses frustration with FAA and industry, urges government regulation remedying extended delays.

By Chris Zappone, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- A member of the House transportation committee, urged more regulation of airline service in a hearing Friday, as committee members expressed frustration with the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry over remedies for extended delays, confusion and inconveniences passengers have endured.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), speaking to a panel of aviation industry representatives, an executive and representatives of passenger advocacy groups, urged the creation of a "floor" in standards in amount of time air carriers can keep passengers waiting in a plane.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D.-Ore.)

DeFazio pointed out the "credibility problem" airlines had in telling passengers the reasons for delays at the gate and also urged the disclosure of the frequency of a flight's delay.

Citing economic philosopher Adam Smith, DeFazio urged that everyone in the market have access to "perfect information" in order for the market to remain efficient.

The comments came at a House transportation committee hearing on aviation consumer issues held Friday.

JetBlue's (down $0.02 to $11.25, Charts) CEO David Neeleman, the only airline executive to appear at the committee meeting, candidly discussed his airline's service disruption in mid-February of 2007, when thousands of passengers were stranded at airports and in airplanes because of winter weather.

Neeleman, however, echoed the resistance by airline industry trade groups to government regulation as a remedy for consumer problems with airlines.

"JetBlue has made clear to all of its customers, without any mandates from Washington, that we deeply regret our actions and we will work vigorously to regain their trust," said Neeleman in written testimony released before his appearance.

"I can think of no greater incentive for JetBlue to improve its operations and make things right for its customers," Neeleman said.

Any regulation would affect the operations of such companies as American Airlines (Charts, Fortune 500), Continental Airlines (Charts, Fortune 500), Delta Airlines (Charts, Fortune 500), and United Airlines (Charts, Fortune 500). Top of page