Saturday, August 8, 2009

Oberstar At It Again

Rep. James Oberstar is taking aim at the airlines again, this time with respect to their fees.  See Josh Mitchell & Doug Cameron, US House Lawmaker Pushes for Study on Airline Fees, Dow Jones Newswires, Aug. 7, 2009 (available here).  According to the story:

The U.S. House Transportation Committee's chairman is taking aim at a proliferation of airline-ticket surcharges and exploring whether the government should get a cut of the revenue.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., this week asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to look into the practice of charging separately for checked baggage, meals, seat selection, ticket cancellations and fuel surcharges.

. . .

The GAO study should look into whether the fees "are commensurate with the cost of providing those services to passengers," Oberstar wrote to the agency in a letter co-signed by Rep. Jerry F. Costello, D-Ill. The lawmakers also requested that the office "study ways that Congress can effectively capture these fees for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund."

The story correctly notes that the Government does not have the authority to regulate or capture airline fees, though it appears that Oberstar is interested in changing that.  As discussed in a post earlier this week, see "The Prescient Posner," the airlines remain locked in the regulators' sights.

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