Obama Administration Turning Out To Be Quite Expensive For Airlines

ABCNews has an article that contrasts the Obama administration’s handing of the airlines with the previous one — and one thing is for certain — it’s getting much more expensive to mess with consumers.

ABC says that fines have skyrockted both at the Department of Transportation and at the FAA.

The DOT oversees consumer issues such as airline pricing, advertising, delays on the tarmac and involuntary bumping.

ABC says:

In 2009, after Obama had appointed Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary, the DOT levied $2.6 million in fines again the airlines. That’s up from $1.2 million during the Bush administration in 2008 and $1.4 million in 2007, according to data requested by ABC News from the DOT

Over at the FAA, which regulates airline safety, the story is similar.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees safety, also saw a spike in penalties during the first year under the leadership of Obama appointee Randy Babbitt. In 2009, the FAA fined the airlines $14.7 million, up from $7.6 million in 2008 and $6.1 million the year before, according to ABC News calculations of FAA data.

Experts say the difference is clear.

“Clearly we have an administration now which believes in more government intervention on behalf of consumers and other constituencies,” Brian F. Havel, a law professor and director of the International Aviation Law Institute at DePaul University in Chicago told ABC [ed note– Go Blue Demons]. “I think the philosophy of the administration clearly is to be more interventionist.”

The most blatent example of the difference between the two administrations is the way the DOT is handing long tarmac delays. The issue first came to the public attention in 2007, when JetBlue notoriously kept passengers on planes for 10 hours during a snowstorm.

LaHood’s DOT has taken the fines to tarmac-lovin’ airlines:

“The traveling public has the right to expect that their flight will be safe and that the airline will treat them fairly,” LaHood said. “During my watch, the U.S. Department of Transportation has vigorously enforced our aviation regulations governing both safety and consumer protection, and we will continue to do so.

Opponents of the tarmac fines say that it the DOT is giving the impression that it happens all the time, when in fact it does not.

Obama Administration Gets Tough on Airlines [ABCNews]