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.
Trump awkwardly pivots from talking about brutal murders to … whining about flight cancelations pic.twitter.com/9gjpZ9cL2h
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 2, 2022
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.