Wall Street Journal travel columnist Andy Paztor had this to say about Randy Babbitt:
Randy Babbitt, an aviation consultant and former head of the country’s largest union representing airline pilots, is being vetted by the White House as the next likely administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, according to several people familiar with the discussions.
Mr. Babbitt’s emergence as the latest front runner follows weeks of talks among White House officials, labor leaders and lawmakers that had ended in a stalemate over earlier candidates.
Other names that emerged in connection with the administrator job included Robert T. Herbert, a longtime aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Duane Woerth, another former pilots’ union president.
But with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood looking for an alternate choice, in recent days attention on Capitol Hill and among industry officials has focused on Babbitt. Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has started doing a background check and Obama Administration officials have alerted lawmakers about the likely choice. FAA officials declined to comment.
The developments, according people familiar with the matter, were partly prompted by the likely choice of former FAA chief Jane Garvey to get the No. 2 job at the Department of Transportation. Garvey reportedly sought out Babbitt to see if he would be interested in the FAA job.
The choice, if it goes through as anticipated, would satisfy labor leaders who have been urging appointment of someone to the FAA sympathetic to their views. Babbitt has labor connections going back to the labor-management struggles at Eastern Airlines before the carrier folded decades ago, he also is seen by many in the industry as more acceptable than Woerth.