FORT WASHINGTON, Maryland -- The passage of 40 years hasn't
changed the mind of former American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall -- he still
thinks the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act was a mistake.
Crandall, who led American from 1985 to 1998, said deregulation
has given the flying public tight seats, high ticket prices in small markets,
no commercial air service in some small communities, and long lines at airports
overwhelmed by explosive traffic growth.
"I think we'd be better off with some modicum of
regulations that moderate the behavior of the industry,"
Crandall said during a Q&A at ARC Travel Connect, a conference held at the
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
Crandall took dead aim at dense aircraft cabins, saying that
while regulators haven't yet allowed carriers to install stand-up seats, they
are allowing seats so tight that "you can't move your legs and arms."
He challenged industry executives to "pay some more
attention to the reaction of your customers."
In another pointed remark, Crandall criticized airline
codeshares, saying that they are a way for airlines to fool people into
thinking they are flying on a carrier that they perceive as more reliable than
the carrier they will actually fly.
"I mean, codesharing is fraud, very simply," he
said. "Codesharing says, I'm going to fly United from here to Warsaw. But
United doesn't fly to Warsaw."
Crandall also called on the airline industry to continue a
push to move air traffic control outside the auspices of the Federal Aviation
Administration. The U.S., he said, is the only major country in the world that
hasn't established a single-purpose air navigation service provider.
"What we have today is so inefficient, it's
unbelievable," Crandall said.
Most of the airline industry backed an effort to privatize
air traffic control. The effort failed this year, in part due to opposition
from private aviation.