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Story on California Air Fares Painted Unfair Picture, Excluded Carriers' Point of View

June 25, 1989

The May 31 story, "Some Worry That Cut-Rate Air Fares in State Won't Last," failed to include the commercial airline point of view. The story drew an unfair and misleading picture of California airline operations, relying on an unrealistic view of the post-deregulation period and "sour grapes" with respect to legislative initiatives.

On behalf of the Air Transport Assn., the trade association whose 21 members provide virtually all of the scheduled passenger service in California, it is time to set the record straight:

- The average round-trip air fare between Los Angeles and Sacramento is not $375 as stated in the article. That is the unrestricted full coach class fare. A more likely average would be in the range of $200, reflecting the fact that about 80% of the passengers on that route get a discount. Travelers have saved billions of dollars since the industry was deregulated in 1978.

- Historically, fares charged on flights within California have lagged behind the rest of the country, creating an unrealistic expectation on the part of some consumers. Fare levels on California intrastate flights are currently comparable to similar flight segments in other parts of the country. Airlines must price their product more equitably if they are to finance new equipment.

- It is absurd to suggest, as statements attributed to the legislative consultant to the California Commission on Aviation and Airports did in the article, that recent fare reductions between Los Angeles and the Bay Area may have been instituted by the carriers to head off adverse legislation and are only temporary. Those fare actions were dictated by a myriad of marketing factors in conjunction with airline planning.

- The acquisition of California-based carriers AirCal by American, Western by Delta and PSA by USAir has preserved thousands of California jobs, expanded investment in facilities, increased service levels and stabilized the economic base of several communities.

The ATA-member airlines serving California represent a major economic force across the state. They are committed to serving California travelers by offering a quality product and frequent schedules within the state, across the U.S. and to international destinations.

ALAN B. WAYNE

Los Angeles

The writer is the California public affairs coordinator for the Air Transport Assn.

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