A note on the airlines’ free rides & subsidies
The airlines do take a BIG hit for both cancellations & delays. After all possibilities are exhausted and we have to cancel, there’s up to 180 hotel rooms (on my plane) to be purchased if it’s a maintenance related problem. If it’s weather related, no hotels, but the ripple affect of people not getting to where they’re going is present for days...I always feel like a target with the uniform on.
A big factor for us is on time performance. The DOT monitors our out and in times, and levies fines for repeat offenders.
I get the unique pleasure of visiting my chief pilot if I’m ONE minute late leaving, and the DOT records it. If I’m more than fourteen minutes late arriving, again the DOT records it. This is why the forty minute flight from JFK to DCA is blocked for two hours...
And don’t even get me started on the “tarmac delay” ruling from a few years ago, that states a HUGE payout is due to every passenger affected. Now we just cancel, blame the weather, and everyone gets screwed...but it avoids the fines.
The airlines pay a LOT of money in landing and gate & parking rental/fees at every airport we operate to. Updating and maintaining their respective terminals, etc. The major metropolitan cities have eye watering levels of fees associated with operations Then there’s the ‘slots’ available for departures & arrivals to/from that airport that are both limited, and expensive to maintain. This is a big reason the smaller airlines (Southwest or Spirit) can usually only operate in smaller cities
While the technically ‘free’ FAA is a taxpayer burden, their role in the airline’s operations are limited. The FAA’s purpose is everyone’s safety. From the manufactures, to the airports, ATC, and qualifications/standards for everyone involved. Even the guy outside raking his leaves under the approach path in to the airport. Don’t believe me? Look at some underdeveloped nations & their safety records.
Not a rant, just my .02