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Delta CEO: More government regulations on airline industry could lead to higher ticket prices

Delta Air Lines CEO on summer travel
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian on upcoming summer travel 07:19

The CEO of Delta Air Lines commented Wednesday on how more government regulation on the airline industry could impact ticket prices. Citing "common business logic," Ed Bastian said any additional layer of regulation and associated costs will inevitably trickle down to consumers. 

"There's no question if there is another layer of government regulation and cost that's introduced into the system, it'll eventually find its way back into ticket prices," Bastian told "CBS Mornings."

President Biden unveiled plans earlier this month for new regulations aimed at holding airlines accountable for travel disruptions that are within their control. Under the new regulations, airlines would be obligated to provide compensation and cover expenses such as meals and hotel rooms when passengers are left stranded due to issues the airline could have prevented. Weather delays would not be covered by the new regulations if they were to go into effect. 

When asked about possible lobbying efforts against new regulations, Bastian said it would be premature to comment until the specifics are known. However, he highlighted Delta's existing commitment to customer service, saying the airline already offers "meaningful" compensation to customers in cases of disruptions. 

Last year, he said, compensation was in the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Bastian sought to assure travelers that Delta is prepared for the summer ahead. After a challenging last summer season, during which travel demand surged, he said the airline has hired and trained over 25,000 employees to meet increased travel needs. 

"Our team is ready," he said. "Our team is ready internationally. Our team is ready in the U.S. And I think it's going to be a very, very good travel period." 

He said the industry overall is in "better shape" than it was last summer. 

The growing popularity of Delta's lounges has led to some overcrowding and lines. In November, Delta announced changes to who will be allowed entry into these lounges. Bastin said that Delta is taking steps to ensure that its most valued customers have the access they deserve while maintaining a high-quality experience. 

He said plans are underway to build a new lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport and that further developments are in the pipeline for expanding the lounge at New York's LaGuardia Airport. 

However, the airline is not solely focused on physical lounges. Delta is also introducing a grab-and-go concept to cater to customers who prefer a quick meal or drink without entering the lounge area. 

"We love the fact that people love our lounges, and you create an experience," he said. "People come, and that's what we get to do."

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