Airline panel lacks consumer members


WASHINGTON -- President Clinton and congressional leaders have spurned both consumer groups and the leading airlines in naming the 15 members of a bipartisan commission charged with recommending measures to revitalize the ailing U.S. airline industry.

The president asked the commission Thursday night to "take a step back" from the debate over why the industry lost $10 billion in the past three years, and "examine the context in which the aviation industry operates."

"To the extent the commission can help us understand how we got to where we are today, and provide a vision for a competitive future, it will have rendered an invaluable service," the president said.

The chairman of the commission, authorized by an act of Congress signed by the president on April 7, will be Gerald L. Baliles, a former governor of Virginia.

The president described Mr. Baliles as "an old friend" who "recognized that aviation is the lifeblood of commerce in a global economy, and made it an important part of his state's competitiveness strategy."

The commission members are drawn from airline unions and management, as well as from finance and academia. Members include Felix G. Rohaytn, a Manhattan investment banker who played a leading role in the rescue of New York City from its fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

Unrepresented, however, were any consumer groups or any of the nation's big airlines. The commission is required to make its recommendations within 90 days.

Noting the absence of consumer groups, David Stempler, counsel for the International Airline Passenger Association, said, "The administration and the Congress have loaded the commission with people who are part of the problem and are not likely to be part of the solution."

The White House and the leaders of the Senate and the House each named five members.

In addition, there are 11 ex-officio members, including Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who heads the president's Council of Economic Advisers; five senators and five House members.

Following are the appointees to the commission:

Appointed by the White House:

Bette B. Anderson, president, Kelly, Anderson & Associates, a management consulting firm in Washington; Gerald L. Baliles, a partner in Hunton & Williams, a Richmond law firm; Sylvia A. de Leon, a partner in Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a Washington law firm; Herbert D. Kelleher, chief executive of Southwest Airlines, Dallas; Gina F. Thomas, managing attorney, international and regulatory affairs, Federal Express, Memphis.

Appointed by the Senate leadership:

Charles Barclay, president of the American Association of Airport Executives, Washington; Robert F. Daniell, chief executive of United Technologies, West Hartford, Conn.; Felix G. Rohaytn, managing partner at Lazard Freres, New York; Russell W. Meyer Jr., chairman and chief executive of Cessna Aircraft, Wichita, Kan.; Abraham D. Sofaer, partner in Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, a Washington law firm.

Appointed by the House leadership:

J. Randolph Babbitt, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Oakton, Va; John Peterpaul, vice president of the International Association of Machinists; Sandra Painalto, first vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; John E. Robson, Lister Crown Distinguished Faculty Fellow, Yale University; Daniel M. Kasper, director of transportation practice and an airlines analyst with Harbridge House, an international consulting firm in Boston.

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