Mark Liberman, president and CEO
of LA Inc., The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau (left), greets
John Sorci, Jr., vice president of
Global Operations for Symantec Corporation, at the LA Inc. booth.
As fuel costs dominated the conversation at July’s National Business Travel Association (NBTA) International Conference & Exposition, business travel leaders challenged the industry to do its part, encouraging elected representatives to pay attention to the important issues facing the travel industry.
Many delegates were already familiar with the July 10 open letter from the airline industry seeking tightened regulations on the oil speculation that played a part in this summer’s dramatic increase in fuel prices. Twelve airline CEOs signed the letter, which can be found at www.stopoilspeculationnow.com.
More can be done, according to Sabre Holdings chairman and CEO Sam Gilliland, who spoke at NBTA on other pressing energy issues. Gilliland opened his remarks by praising the airline industry, saying that during the last three decades airlines have improved their oil efficiency by 110 percent. Those gains, he said, will be largely negated without reforming the Air Traffic Control system.
"We’re still using 1950’s technology, which is resulting in gridlock, delays at airports and a very congested airspace," said Gilliland.
A proposed NextGen Air Transportation System could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 400,000 barrels a day by 2030. Another issue affecting the price of oil is the weakened dollar. Oil is bought and sold globally in U.S. dollars.
"About $40 of the price of a barrel of oil today is attributable to the weak dollar," he said.
Investigating alternative fuel solutions will also play a key role in solving our long-term energy needs. In the short term, Gilliland encouraged attendees to take immediate action in contacting elected officials to demand the changes so critical to the travel industry.