250 000 Bumped From Flights

CBS News reported earlier today that an estimated 250 000 passangers will be bumped from their flights before this weekend is over, the results of the F.A.A. requiring American to inspect the wiring harnesses of over 300 of its planes.

Or perhaps, as CBS quoted Mingo Valencia, a 60-year-old stuck at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport while heading home to Midland, Texas, its because of “poor management”.

Whatever the reason that Nicholas Sabatini, the F.A.A. official who ordered the plane inspections, has for choosing this moment to pursue the audits, it worries me most of all that Congress is getting into the act.

Nicholas Sabatini, faced tough questions from a Senate subcommittee about the agency’s lax oversight of airlines and his own accountability for recent breakdowns. The FAA noted that airlines had 18 months to complete the work on the MD-80s since the initial order was issued in September 2006.

“The carrier was not in compliance with an airworthiness directive,” Sabatini told Congress, “we brought that to their attention and they made the right decision.”

What he didn’t say was that the F.A.A. had 18 months to report that American Airlines was not compliant, but didn’t.

And what won’t be said is that Congress in general, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in particular, want to politicize this fiasco in order to force re-regulation of the airline industry.

That’s how it works in an election year.

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