The President met today in the State Dining Room with CEOs of Delta, United, Southwest, and others along with several airports. Jared Kushner and economic advisor Gary Cohn were present as well.
Here’s the pool report on the meeting.
This is how the President opened after shaking hands:
POTUS congratulated airlines at succeeding “despite the bad equipment that the airport gives you, in many cases”
“I have a pilot who’s a real expert,” POTUS said, noting that his pilot has said airlines are often provided with “the wrong stuff.”
“Let’s order the right equipment. Probably the wrong equipment cost more.” POTUS said.
“We want the traveling public to have the greatest customer service and with an absolute minimum of delays.”
He suggested that the government should be focused on our “obsolete plane system, we have obsolete airports” implying that the “six trillion dollars” the government spent in the Middle East and “got nothing” could have been put to better use.
The head of LAX airport said her airport was 7th largest in the world. The President declared, “We’ll make it number one,” but was informed another U.S. airport — Atlanta — is already largest. He “remarked that he loves the state of Georgia.”
Southwest Airlines led off the discussion of air traffic control modernization.
“I hear we’re spending billions and billions of dollars, it’s a system that’s totally out of whack.” POTUS said of the air traffic control system.
POTUS inquired as to why airline corporations had allowed the government to invest in a faulty system. Southwest informed POTUS that the airlines are not “in control” of those decisions.
POTUS said that the system could potentially work better if FAA was run by a pilot because it is not currently, as a meeting attendee confirmed for him.
The pool reporter was then excused from the meeting. The executive order on immigration wasn’t mentioned and though the major US airline’s desire for government protectionism against Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar wasn’t on the official agenda, the President shared his thoughts:
“I know you’re under pressure from a lot of foreign elements and foreign carriers,” he said. “I’ve been hearing that a little bit. At the same time, we want to make life good for them also. They come with big investments. In many cases investments are made by their governments, but they are still big investments.”