11 July 2008

Direct from the BOOT... The US Airlines shoot themselves in the foot

This is the verbatim post from Tim Hughes Blog the BOOT.

Most of the major US airlines sent round an open letter blaming the skyrocketing oil prices and resulting economic consequences on
"Speculators [who] buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again" (here is the letter in full below)
They have even supported a very serious looking website called "Stop Oil Speculation Now (or SOS NOW)". The ludicrous argument by the airlines is that when speculators enter the market they sell the oil to each other with no intention of delivery with the only consequence is driving up the price. This is an absolute lie.

The airlines are the first to tell the markets about their financial genius when they successfully hedge against fuel increases and save $$$$ in fuel costs. Hedging can only occur because there are speculators in the market that are prepared to bet the other way. If you remove speculators, then hedging disappears and the airlines will have no facility at all for planning ahead of time for fuel purchases. They will have to do what you and I do - turn up to the pump and pay the price on the day. There is no one in the airline industry that wants to do this and therefore remove speculators and hedging.

If speculators disappeared then it would dramatically increase the uncertainty for airlines in fuel prices resulting in increases in prices rather than decreases.

This is a blatant and almost pathetic smokescreen to cover up efforts to beg for government support/handouts and set up someone else to blame when the chapter 11 bankruptcy filings start.

So if you support the airlines then go to the website. If not then write your favorite congressman and senator and tell them what you think



Dear United Airlines passenger....,

Last week, crude oil hit an all-time high of $146, and the skyrocketing cost of fuel is impacting our customers, our employees, the communities we serve, and the economy as a whole. United, and the majority of other major U.S. airlines, are asking our most loyal customers to join us in pushing for legislation to add more transparency and disclosure in the oil markets. Please see the attached open letter from the leaders of the U.S. airline industry.

An Open letter to All Airline Customers:

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers. Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; 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.

Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem.

We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com.

Robert Fornaro
President and CEO
AirTran Airways

Bill Ayer
President and CEO
Alaska Airlines, Inc.

Gerard J. Arpey
President and CEO
American Airlines, Inc.

Lawrence W. Kellner
Chairman and CEO
Continental Airlines, Inc.

Richard Anderson
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Mark B. Dunkerley
President and CEO
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

Dave Barger
JetBlue Airways

Timothy E. Hoeksema
President and CEO
Midwest Airlines

Douglas M. Steenland
President and CEO
Northwest Airlines, Inc.

Gary Kelly
Chairman and CEO
Southwest Airlines Co.

Glenn F. Tilton
President and CEO
United Airlines, Inc.

Douglas Parker
Chairman and CEO
US Airways Group, Inc.

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