Odd: Donald Trump Goes On “Bizarre Rant” About Airlines

Donald Trump, who himself used to own an airline that lost so much money it was taken back by the bank, launched a “bizarre rant” about the airline industry at a campaign rally on Saturday.

In a speech during which he thanked Ginni Thomas, spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for “telling the January 6 House Select Committee that she believed the 2020 election was stolen from him,” he transitioned from the issue of crime to the state of U.S. airlines and airports.

We are a nation whose once-revered airports are a dirty, crowded mess where you sit and wait for hours and then are notified that the plane won’t leave. And they have no idea when they will as a nation, when they will be delivered and when you will be delivered to your destination. It’s a nation where ticket prices are through the roof. They don’t have the pilots to fly the plane. They don’t want or seek qualified air traffic controllers. And they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

The state of airport infrastructure has been a pet issue of President Biden whose 2014 remarks set off the race to remake New York LaGuardia into a beautiful structure that takes passengers longer to get from curb to gate. As President, Trump did not really do anything about this issue. He did, however, take credit for how safe airlines were during the first year of his Presidency (but not responsibility for aviation incidents during his term).

The former President also didn’t do anything to “seek qualified air traffic controllers” during his time in office, either, and air traffic control is a function provided directly by the U.S. federal government. Trump did try, though, to spin off the service into a separate non-profit as is the case with air traffic control in Canada where services are provided more efficiently. NavCanada is able to finance technology upgrades outside of the vagaries of annual legislative appropriations. This was a move favored by air traffic controllers themselves, but blocked largely by Democrats in Congress.

Trump owned the Eastern Airlines shuttle, which he purchased for nearly full asking price (rather than negotiating a great deal). It was a money-loser, and he couldn’t service the debt. Ultimately he lost money on the deal and it was taken back by Citibank, who entered into a joint venture with US Airways to run it. That product became the American Airlines shuttle, which no longer operates as a separate product under the American-JetBlue Northeast Alliance.

Trump also sought to take over American Airlines just a year into his foray as an airline operator. Trump likely never had financing for his offer, and may have been looking to simply make a trading profit on the American shares he did buy as a greenmailer (an amount below the SEC reporting threshold). He ultimately lost money on the offer, though, caught up in the 1989 Friday the 13th stock market mini-crash. Trump also had a failed online travel agency website, GoTrump.com.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I do not understand why anyone publishes comment made by Trump. In the past 6 months he has not made any comments that is good for the US or the people that live here. He doesn’t offer any suggestions on how to solve an issue that he feels is important. The best thing that the press could do is stop publishing any new or comments on Trump for at least 2 months.

  2. Actually, Trump would have had a better chance to succeed if he had tried running Amtrak, given how today its corporate management are novices lacking railroad experience; a Board of Directors with no background relevant to running a passenger railroad. The exception being the Board Chair from New Jersey whose background is real estate development. Just think of the potential for deals promoted by New York’s Senator Schumer!

  3. I’m going to just get some popcorn and watch the comments to this story – should be entertaining!

  4. just as Biden will be, Trump is a one-term president. He gets as much air time as Jimmy Carter. no more, no less.
    Time to move on.

  5. Like most of his minions have ever been on a plane. Sheesh. Know your slack-jawed knuckle dragging mouth breathing ignoramus audience, Donnie.

  6. Tim Dunn, Jimmy never sought attention after leaving office. He continued non-political public service via his charities . . . quietly. I was a big critic of his in-office performance. But, I do wish all former presidents would follow his post-office example.

    Agreed, time to move on.

  7. Please stop giving that lunatic a platform by broadcasting his rants. Time to move on from him. PLEASE

  8. @Bob, you forgot to add DEFEATED former president/insurrectionist to your list, but otherwise you nailed it.

  9. Infrastructure Week! We know how much money flowed to rebuild airports under T and it was not much. LGA was state money. And by cancelling the Iran Nuclear treaty, T lost Boeing dozens of orders for new aircraft (the Airbus picked up). Wonder when he last flew commercial?

  10. AA’s CEO said in testimony regarding the Northeast Alliance
    Isom noted that Delta (DAL) has run a “nice, reliable airline” with key cost advantages over American.

    Apparently all things are not equal.

    Ironic that Trump couldn’t make his 757 work but Delta has made the 757 the state bird of Florida.

  11. Hit the issue in the nose. LaGuardia may be shiny and beautiful but it’s worse than before. Before, it was just old style architecture with low, but very functional, ceilings, no lower than a university or city hall. With many shiny new airport terminals, there’s much more walking. Some old people don’t need wheelchairs normally but find the long walk very difficult.

    LGA is also building a very expensive AirTrain that goes in the wrong direction unless you like Port Washington and Stony Brook, not Manhattan.

    There’s something to be said for airports like DCA, FWA (Fort Wayne, Indiana), OMA, LIT, SAT, etc. over large, grand airports, like ATL or DEN

  12. Curious?? How does one tell when one of the imbeciles rants are “bizarre” or not???

  13. Yeah, let’s pile on Trump 2 years after he left office. Name one thing Sleepy Joe has done which has been good for the country….I’m waiting. Open Southern border, wild inflation, sky high fuel prices, loss of confidence from allies, woke policies throughout the federal government? I would hope he doesn’t run for re-election except in that case we might be saddled with Kamala, who can’t tell the difference between North Korea from South Korea. God help us.

  14. It’s wrong to include the editorialization in the headline of the original hit piece in your headline. What Trump said is very accurate, mild, and what majority of people think. To call it bizarre is bigoted, biased, and hateful. Your readers should be aware you just quoted the headline from a biased news source but it would have been better not to do that.

    The airline industry is a mess precisely because it is highly regulated by the government and there are significant barriers to entry that prevent real competition and a good product. Free markets don’t exist when government taxes 50% from income to excise taxes and controls what type of napkins an airline can hand out. Most airports are government owned whereas most in Europe are privatized. Air traffic control always has staffing issues because it is not privatized. Trump tried to privatize the air traffic controllers but a corrupted congress denied it.

    Given that Trump is incapable of grasping details and only talks in big themes, I don’t know if there is any substance to Trump thinking he could fix things. That doesn’t mean it’s bizarre for him to criticize what everyone criticizes.

  15. @john dongas — But here’s the thing. If you fly regularly, you know the airline industry is NOT actually “a mess.” They actually do a pretty good job for a pretty good price. It’s, by far, the best value in the travel experience — which is amazing given how difficult it is to run an airline well. Could they do better? Sure. Show me an industry that couldn’t do better. But the rhetoric from Trump and many other politiicans who don’t regularly fly commercial with “the little people” is divorced from reality.

  16. @craigs is one of those Trump suck ups. He will forgive trump for using illegal immigrant labour at Mar a Lardo. Because he loves his Dear Leader

  17. Bizarre should be reserved for things like the Biden leg hair diddy. I would just call this a random sidebar.

  18. People that get excited about a political candidate are the same people that think the stripper actually likes them.

  19. Mr. Trump took the closest thing to a cash cow in the airline industry and, like everything he touches, ran it right into the ground. The 727s he got from Eastern were already ageing and he put in plush interiors and gold faucets?! I still laugh at that.

    When Eastern reached the agreement with Trump, customers for en masse to the Pan Am shuttle. If he hadn’t gone over the top with the interiors, then perhaps he might have been able to purchase more modern airframes and win those customers back. But he didn’t, and his airline became a lawn dart in about two years

    I don’t know of too many airline retirees old enough to remember that who take him seriously as a “good businessman.”

  20. Whilst Trump lost the last presidential election apparently he did become the mayor of Crazytown. Now the fastest growing city in the United States. A place where logic doesn’t exist.

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