A year and a half ago American Airlines CEO Doug Parker was scoffing at United’s investments in biofuels being good for the environment. There was real evidence for his position, that current biofuel technology is simply too resource-intensive to be useful.
Now, though, American has done a 180.
- They’ve had two government bailouts and are lobbying for a third. The large U.S. airlines have all been partly-nationalized, with the Treasury Department receiving stock warrants, and American in particular pledged their frequent flyer program to the Treasury as collateral for a government-backed $7.5 billion loan.
- Joe Biden is now President, and Biden has greater environmental priorities than the previous administration.
American’s CEO along with officials from other airlines met with the White House Climate Advisor, economic adviser and Transportation Secretary on Friday over reducing emissions and investment in biofuels.
Parker, who received government subsidies to rescue America West and then took over US Airways which itself had received federal subsidies after 9/11, knows that his path to profit is taxpayer wallets rather than customer wallets.
So on the day of the White House meeting, American announced a new partnership for biofuels.
As Captain Renault said to Major Strasser in Casablanca, “I have no conviction, if that’s what you mean. I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.”
Not only is American bending to the prevailing wind of the new administration they’re looking for even more handouts,
U.S airlines and renewables companies have been lobbying the Biden administration to back a big increase in subsidies for lower-carbon aviation fuel, arguing new incentives are needed to help fight climate change and will also make their recovery from the pandemic much greener.
I almost wish American Airlines and Qatar Airways hadn’t had a rapprochement, because the trolling campaign from Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker would have been priceless – that the Doha-based carrier can compete against any airline in the world but can’t be expected to compete against larger governments.