Log onto the website StopOilSpeculationNow.com and you might think that it’s a plea by poor American consumers who are being hit by rocking oil prices. But you would be wrong: it is a PR effort by the Air Transport Association of America.
The adverts include one where a globe is being squeezed with a drop of oil coming out of it. Its uses typical emotive language: “Do you Drive to work? Buy food? Take the kids to see grandma each summer? Plan on heating your home this winter? If you do any of these things, gas and oil speculation hurts you and your family.”
But the high oil prices are hurting the airlines the most, as the airline industry “cannot continue to survive at $140 oil,” according to the Air Transport Association trade group.
The CEOs of 12 major airlines, including Southwest, American and Delta, have also banded together to send e-mails to their frequent fliers asking for aid lobbying legislators to restrict oil speculation.
“For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain,” the e-mails read. The industry claims it will lose between $7 billion to $13 billion this year due in large part to oil prices.
David Castelveter, VP-communications for ATA, the airline trade association, said nearly 1 million messages were sent to Congress in the first two days of the campaign.
According to Ad Age, the move is “attempting to divert consumer anger directed at airlines for nickel-and-diming them and instead make oil speculators the bad guys.” Ad Age quotes one PR executive: “There’s no question that they went into this realizing there’s an ancillary benefit of perhaps some sympathy for the airlines among consumers. You’d be naïve to think that isn’t part of the equation.”