Airlines ask for help
ATLANTA » Hawaiian Airlines
Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley and the CEOs of 11 other U.S. airlines, beset by record fuel costs that have caused several to cut jobs, reduce capacity and impose higher fees on customers, are now asking for their customers' help to curb the rise of oil prices.
They have co-signed a letter being sent to frequent fliers of their respective carriers, asking customers to contact Congress about the problem of market speculation, which they believe is driving up the price of oil.
"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 states.
Lawmakers have cited the problems high fuel prices cause airlines, trucking companies, farmers and consumers in calling for restrictions on speculative trading.
Dunkerley said that like all airlines, Hawaiian is struggling to cope with the huge increase in the price of fuel over the past year and the last six months in particular.
"Speculation in oil futures has become a major factor in artificially driving up prices, and we support the effort to curtail this practice that allows speculators to profit at the expense of consumers," he said.
Northwest Airlines Corp. Chief Executive Douglas Steenland urged lawmakers in June to close loopholes that allow traders to dodge U.S. speculation limits by trading on foreign exchanges or through over-the-counter transactions.
The letter from the airlines acknowledges that oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, prompting a need for the country to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation, but goes on to say that speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. The price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs, the letter says.
It adds that regulations established decades ago by Congress to control excessive market speculation have been weakened or removed over the years.