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Airline Industry Reform Legislation Remarks at a Briefing for Representatives of the Airline Industry and Public Interest Groups.

June 20, 1977

This afternoon's session is devoted to a very important legislative matter before the Senate and which shortly will be before the House. For the last 3 years the Congress has been trying to decide how best to approach the problem that exists within the airline industry. And there are some goals to be pursued that are very important to the consumers of our Nation and also to the airlines, the airports, the employees of this major industry, as well.

The hearings that have already been conducted in the House and Senate have revealed a great deal of 'necessary information of an economic nature which is to be used as a basis for legislation concerning airline reform. There are several goals to be pursued.

I am not an expert on the subject, but this is a continuation of my own education about this matter. We want to have an opportunity for strengthening the free enterprise system in our country to make sure that competition exists in a fair and equitable way, to be sure that we have some protection for small communities that now receive commercial airline service.

In the last 16 years, for instance, more than 200 communities have lost their airline service, and this is a trend in the wrong direction. The legislation now before the Senate will guarantee that for the next 10 years airline service to these small communities will be protected, continued, with a subsidy cost that will be a reduction instead of an increase. This is one of the goals.

Another one is to provide more flexibility to accommodate changing markets so that airlines might enter more freely new markets and so that we might have, in addition to that, perhaps more competition with new airlines themselves.

Since 1950, although we have had 80 applications for new charters, none have been approved. I think the recent decision by the CAB, which was a very good move in the right direction to provide some lower airline use costs across the Atlantic, is a step in the right direction.

There is a tremendous potential market among Americans for airline service use that hasn't yet been tapped. I believe that more competition, lower rates, higher use of airplanes, more entry into new markets, better protection for small communities all tie together in a very worthwhile pursuit.

There is always a fear of change, and I know that when there is a privilege that is now extant, that a chance of losing that privileged position is one that causes legitimate concern.

I am personally hopeful that we might reduce government regulation as an overall concept, and if that reduction can be concluded with a reinvigoration of the airline industry and a better service to consumers and the communities that need it, all those goals will be very well worth the effort.

This afternoon I am here to learn and to let the American people share in the learning process. There is revised legislation now in the Senate which I think substantially overcomes the legitimate concerns expressed about the original legislation.

After a 3-year process, great progress has been made. I would like to conclude my part in the program by congratulating Senator Cannon and Senator Kennedy, Congressman Glenn Anderson, and Congressman Elliott Levitas, who is here this afternoon, Senator Magnuson, and others who have labored very long and hard to prepare the Congress to address this controversial and important issue.

Senator Cannon, I would like to turn the lectern over to you now. I know there will be a chance for several people to express their opinions. But I am very grateful for the good work you have done so far. I understand the committee hearings will continue very shortly.

Note: The President spoke at 1:13 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

Prior to the briefing, the President met with Brock Adams, Secretary of Transportation, Alfred E. Kahn, Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, and a group of Senators and Representatives to discuss the legislation. Participants in that meeting then attended the briefing.

Jimmy Carter, Airline Industry Reform Legislation Remarks at a Briefing for Representatives of the Airline Industry and Public Interest Groups. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243856

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