I know United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby does not want European-style delay compensation in the United States, but I wish he would not continue to warn it could compromise safety.
United CEO Kirby: More Consumer Compensation Is A Threat To Safety
In May, Kirby made the case on NPR that the regulatory addition of cash compensation for flight delays and cancellations could compromise safety:
But I think the most important point is safety. We start from Day One with every employee — we drill it into them that safety is No. 1. You don’t think about costs. And if you all of a sudden start saying, well, there’s a big expense associated with delaying or canceling this flight – I don’t want to chip away at that safety foundation with the pilot or mechanic in the back of their minds saying, “Well, this is a close call and it’s going to cost a lot of money” – we shouldn’t do that.
As I said then, it is of course not surprising that Kirby is averse to obligatory cash compensation for delays and cancellations in the USA. But am I the only one who is troubled by his hint…some might even call threat…that such a system would actually jeopardize the safety of flights?
I’d say Kirby’s messaging is off here and he would be better served implementing protocols to protect passengers in case of these delays and cancellations that make any sort of government-backed mandate superfluous.
Once again Kirby has made the case that implementing something in the USA similar to EU261/2004 delay compensation (which offers delayed passengers up to €650 in cash) would cost the airline industry “a God-awful amount of money.”
Speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce Global Aerospace Summit in Washington, Kirby said:
“We should never risk changing the safety culture in aviation. I do not want a pilot, I do not want a mechanic, thinking about the extra cost of delay when they’re thinking about a decision.”
And what does delay compensation have to do this?
Putting safety first, regardless of the cost, is a given. I fail to understand why Kirby continues to warn about safety. And I have enough faith and confidence in pilots (and mechanics) to trust that they will not fly a plane that is not safe to fly.
So Kirby’s “safety” concern is not a viable concern at all.
Sure, there is some valid concern that more regulation would be harmful and lead to higher ticket prices (I don’t personally buy it, but I understand Kirby’s contention that it will cost airlines a lot of money), but the safety concern is simply invalid.
United CEO Scott Kirby is again warning that more compensation for delayed or stranded consumers for issues within the control of the airline (like crew scheduling or mechanical issues) could compromise safety. I strongly disagree and find this is a shameful tactic to oppose such legislation.
image: @scottkirby / Instagram