Airlines In Tailspin

From the Financial Times:

The airline industry reported on Thursday an “unprecedented and shocking” plunge in global air cargo traffic.

Air freight accounts for 35 per cent of the value of goods traded internationally and the International Air Transport Association said traffic volumes had fallen by 22.6 per cent year-on-year in December.

Giovanni Bisignani, Iata director general, said, “there is no clearer description of the slowdown in world trade. Even in September 2001 (after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US), when much of the global fleet was grounded, the decline was only 13.9 per cent.”

International passenger traffic fell in December by 4.6 per cent. Iata said the drop was less dramatic than in cargo, as volumes had been supported by year-end leisure travel that had been booked in advance.

Airlines are still struggling to reduce capacity to match falling demand, however, and are flying with more empty seats. Capacity was reduced by 1.5 per cent year-on-year in December, resulting in airlines filling only 73.8 per cent of available seats, down from 76.2 per cent a year ago.

“Until this comes into balance, even the sharp fall in fuel prices cannot save the industry from drowning in red ink,” said Mr Bisignani.

Rest of story here.

CEOs Want To Use Bailout $$ To Bust Unions

Great post from In One Ear and Out the Other:

Regardless of how you feel about the Employee Free Choice Act, you should be outraged that recipients of the bail-out are using that money to lobby Congress against the measure.

Wikileaks managed to get its hand on an hour long phone call between some “Captains of Industry” in which AIG and Bank of America took part. In that phone call lobbying efforts were discussed to tank “card check legislation.”

I’ve listened to the call once, and from what I’ve caught it’s been a lot of discussion about industry fear of “becoming France.” The real kicker, and Sam Stein heard the same thing I did, that:

“This is the demise of a civilization,” said Marcus. “This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.”

The comment’s owner was Bernie Marcus, the founder of Home Depot, who apparently missed the irony of blaming unions for an “end of civilization” event at a time when the “captains of industry” were witnessing and responsible for the beginning of a recession that’s so far accounted for the loss of more than a third of the value of the stock market.

Mr. Marcus then goes on to talk about establishing PAC’s so that retailers can make donations in amounts up to $2 million and “avoid McCain-Fiengold.” Marcus also went on to make some other nonsensical accusations, that Obama promised to establish EFCA as the first priority of his administration (it was healthcare before the recession began, economy after it). He goes on to complain about an end to the “12 hour work day.”

For the full Wikileaks transcript go here.