Jimmy Carter photo

Remarks on Signing Into Law the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978

October 24, 1978

THE PRESIDENT. I think we have more people here today than we had when we tried to organize the campaign to get this legislation passed. [Laughter]

It is a special pleasure for me today to sign into law the Airline Deregulation Act. This legislation will permit us to achieve two critical objectives. One is to help our fight against inflation. And the other one is to ensure American citizens of an opportunity for low-priced air transportation.

It will also mean less Government interference in regulation of an increasingly prosperous airline industry. All of us here today worked long and hard for this legislation. And the product is well worth that labor.

In recent months, thanks to the actions of the Civil Aeronautics Board, under the leadership of Chairman Alfred Kahn, we've seen the beginning of real competition among domestic airlines. Competition has already helped both consumers and the industry. It has brought lower fares, more passengers, and higher profits. In the future, of course, regulation of air safety will continue, as it has in the past, under another Government agency.

With this act, airlines can reduce their fares up to 50 percent, opening up air travel to millions of Americans who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

There will also be more competition for air routes. In the past, it was almost impossible for a new carrier meeting all the safety and financial requirements to receive permission to serve the public. But under the new bill, the opportunities for entry of new airlines in this service will be greatly improved.

The bill also provides a more efficient program for guaranteeing good quality services of airlines to our smaller communities. And the bill fulfills the commitment to lift the heavy hand of Government regulation, by phasing out route approval at the end of 1981, phasing out domestic fare regulation by the end of 1983, and phasing out all activities of the Civil Aeronautics Board by 1985.

For the first time in decades, we have deregulated a major industry. When I announced my own support of airline deregulation soon after taking office, this bill had few friends. I'm happy to say that today it appears to have few enemies. Governors, mayors, consumer advocates, all supported the bill. And all will benefit from the increase in competition and the guarantees of quality services to smaller communities. Taxpayers will benefit from the orderly phasing out of the functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board and from the sound precedent this bill sets for dealing with other over-regulated industries.

This bill would not have been possible without the early leadership of Senator Ted Kennedy, who's here with us, and Senator Howard Cannon, who worked in a yeoman's way for the passage of this legislation. I want to especially thank them for first raising this issue and bringing it to public attention.

I also want to thank Chairman Bizz Johnson and Glenn Anderson who's not here—and Allen Ertel. Glenn is back here— [laughter] —Bizz Johnson is not here—and Allen Ertel for the cooperation and leadership that they showed in passing this exemplary anti-inflation legislation.

Chairman Bizz Johnson couldn't come, is that correct?

Well, it's with a great pleasure that I sign now into law Senate bill 2493, to deregulate the airline industry of our country. It's a major step forward for consumers, for the airline industries as well, and especially for those who use air transportation for their purposes.

[At this point, the President signed the bill.]

I'd like to ask Chairman Howard Cannon if he would like to make a comment.

SENATOR CANNON. Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. I certainly agree with you that this is a great day in deregulation of the regulatory structure. I think it's extremely important to the country. I think, as you do, that it's going to be important not only to the consumers but important to the air carriers as well, though they did not believe so at the beginning. And I'm delighted to see that it's finally signed into law.


Ted Kennedy?

SENATOR KENNEDY. Mr. President, I just want to join in commending you for your leadership in this important legislative achievement and also for the bipartisan support that was received. It was really a bipartisan effort.

It meets the objectives which you've established in the problems of inflation, getting the Federal Government out of an important industry. It's going to mean more jobs and better services for people. And I hope that we can do the same in other areas of economic regulation.

THE PRESIDENT. Glenn Anderson, who's very much present.

REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON. Yes, very much present. [Laughter]

Well, thank you, Mr. President. I want to say that I'm very pleased with the legislation. I think that we have worked out a good bill. The committees have worked hard to iron out any ,differences we might have had at the start. And I think that's one of the reasons we do find there's very few opponents to the bill today.

And I would be remiss if I didn't say that the support of the administration in helping us get this bill through both Houses was very, very obvious, and we thank you very much for it.

THE PRESIDENT. I particularly want to thank two people that I mentioned briefly. One is Alfred Kahn, the Chairman of the CAB. He and his predecessor had, within the bounds of the law, put as many of these reforms into effect as was possible. And they proved, as the law was being considered, that these reforms worked. And it made it possible, I believe, to convince those who did doubt the efficacy of this bill that it was a good piece of legislation. I thank you for that.

And I especially want to thank Allen Ertel, who, in the last weeks of the legislative session, introduced an amendment on the floor of the House that removed a lot of objectionable amendments that had been imposed on the bill in committee and brought into compatibility as best as was possible the House bill and the superb Senate bill that had already been passed.

I'd like to ask the last person, Brock Adams, if he would like to make a comment. Brock is the Secretary of Transportation, and this will greatly impact on the quality of our transportation system.

SECRETARY ADAMS. Mr. President, I just am deeply pleased that this has happened. It was a promise that I made to you early on. We all knew it was going to be difficult. And I appreciate your deep support and that of all of those in the White House as well as those in the Congress for making it possible. It will make the average American family have a chance to really travel. And I'm glad it's there for you, and we're pleased.

HE PRESIDENT. Very good.

This is a great step forward in controlling inflation. Quite often we don't have a chance to do anything positive to control inflation. We can put the brakes on and not spend money. But this is a major step forward. And I hope it's a precursor to what the Congress can help me do next year to minimize regulation of other crucial industries, particularly in the transportation field.

Thank you all very much for a wonderful bill.

Note: The President spoke at 4:05 p.m. at the ceremony in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

As enacted, S. 2493 is Public Law 95-504, approved October 24.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Signing Into Law the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243505

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