American Air: Our Industry Is Great but for Congress and Virgin

DALLAS (TheStreet) -- American Airlines'  (AAL) two top officers spoke out from opposite ends of the country on Tuesday, as both CEO Doug Parker and President Scott Kirby applauded the current state of the airline industry but said a few kinks still need to be worked out.

Parker, who spoke at an "aviation summit" in Washington, D.C. that was sponsored by industry lobbyist A4A, said, "Everything about our business feels dramatically different and greatly improved until I get to Washington -- Here, our industry doesn't seem to be appreciated.

"It often feels like we are viewed as a federally owned utility," Parker said, as he itemized the industry's gripes.

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Chiefly, an array of federal taxes and fees, unique to airlines, accounts for 21% of the cost of the average $300 ticket. Three-and-a-half decades after deregulation, excessive regulation remains, led by steep fines for delays exceeding three hours. Progress has been maddeningly slow on air traffic control improvements that could vastly benefit the economy. All this is in stark contrast with the approach of Middle East countries that work with their national airlines to build traffic even though the countries lack something most airline passengers would seem to want: desirable destinations.

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Kirby, meanwhile, spoke to an investor conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., and said the airline revenue environment is generally favorable.

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