Struggling Airlines Issue Urgent SOS to Customers

Twelve airline CEOs came together on Wednesday to point fingers in the fuel crisis that is crippling their businesses.In an open letter to airline customers, the leaders of the major carriers ask travelers to stand by them in trying to prevent oil speculators from trading oil futures that raise the price of fuel with each trade.Many carriers have recently announced that thousands of their employees will soon lose their jobs as the airlines scale back their operations. With the airlines doing all they can to afford to do business as the cost of fuel rises, they tell travelers, "This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers."The letter asserts that there is "another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation."The Air Transport Association, the group that represents the airlines, has been making noise about oil speculators for weeks and speaking up about how critical their business is to the overall health of the U.S. economy. But this is the first time they've teamed up to make such a loud statement directly to the nation's travelers."This nation's economy is inextricably linked to the viability of its air transportation system," ATA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer John M. Meenan testified before Congress on June 24. "If the airlines continue to spiral downward, so will the economy. Aviation contributes $690 billion to the U.S. GDP – that's 10 million new jobs." According to the ATA, the price of a barrel of jet fuel to date this year has soared to $139.52. The comparable price of jet fuel was $81.94 just last year.What do you think about this take-it-to-the-public campaign? Fair move, given the meteoric spike in oil prices? Or desperate move from an industry that's crashing and burning and needs to do all it can to survive and make a profit?-Kate Barrett

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