Randy Babbitt named FAA Administrator; airline reaction positive so far

From the Wall Street Journal:

Friday’s appointment prompted predictable accolades from various labor leaders. But reflecting Mr. Babbitt’s ability to appeal to industry, airline executives and the industry’s main lobbying group also chimed in with expressions of strong support.

Glenn Tilton, chairman and chief executive officer of United Airlines parent UAL Corp., said Friday that Mr. Babbitt’s appointment would be a positive step because he is “multi-dimensional, experienced and has been involved in the industry in a number of ways.” More than a compromise between airline management and union desires, Mr. Tilton said the nominee’s “breadth of experience was an important consideration.” His priority “should be moving the timetable forward” on the next-generation air-traffic control system in planning since the 1970s.

[..] Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of US Airways Group Inc., said Friday that he would be very pleased if Mr. Babbitt gets the job. “Randy understands the aviation industry extraordinarily well and he knows what need to be done.” He “absolutely” would speed up the move toward the new (air-navigation) system,” Mr. Parker said. “I think he’d be fantastic.”

Mr. Babbitt, who still flies small planes for recreation, managed to build a reservoir of industry trust partly through membership in a number of blue-ribbon government commission and advisory groups. In 1993, he served as a White-House appointed member of the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry. He was also a presidential appointee to the FAA Management Advisory Council, created by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996.

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