The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | We should follow the Amtrak way by creating a state-run airline

Current air travel is a messy and stressful activity. We could help fix this with a state-owned airline.

Flying can be a stressful and difficult endeavor, and the airlines are no help.

Passengers can often be hit with delays and left without compensation or assistance with their travel issues. Airlines are becoming increasingly less reliable, and their quality continues to drop. These airlines cut corners and are only beholden to their profit motive.

This has even led Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, to introduce a “passenger bill of rights” in 2023 to hold the airlines more accountable.

In addition, there should be a government-owned airline similar to the train system Amtrak, or many global peers’ airlines such as United Arab Emirates, Air New Zealand, and Scandinavian Airlines.

The airline would have many benefits. With privatized airlines, the companies are not beholden to the people but to profit. This has led to countless travel nightmares in which airlines regularly screw over their paying consumers.

A state-owned airline would be run by public officials voted on by the public or put in place by elected officials. It could also have Congressional oversight, allowing for regulation and fixes if people demand it. It would also lack a profit motive, so the airlines would not cut corners to maximize their amount of money. This could create safer air travel as a state-owned operation could invest all profits and funding into the best product.

Amtrak shows how we can start and run our own “Amair.” Amtrak was founded in the 1970s to save the fleeting private passenger train industry as many private passenger trains were going bankrupt. The government decided that instead of bailing out the industry, it would buy the remaining companies and form a public state-owned passenger train. Since then, Amtrak has provided travel for many Americans, and the U.S. has not needed to bail out the industry.

The same cannot be said for airlines. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. and its taxpayers have spent billions financially bailing out airlines. We could use the money we have spent on bailing out airlines to run our own. A solution like Amtrak in which we create our own state-owned airline can help end this problematic use of taxpayer money.

A state-owned airline would be beneficial as it would introduce a competitor to our current airlines. We do not need to nationalize the industry entirely but have one standalone public airline. This airline, not working for profit, would be safer by not cutting corners and working for the public.

This would create an airline that consumers can directly address and impact and would be under the eye of the public. A government airline could help both the public consumer and help facilitate meaningful change within private airlines.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Caden Bell
Caden Bell, Opinions Columnist
Caden Bell is a third year transfer student student at The University of Iowa majoring in Ethics and Public Policy. This is his first year at the The Daily Iowan.