Southwest CEO takes on Obama

Southwest Airlines is joining the airline lobby's fight against President Obama's deficit-reduction proposal to increase taxes on flights.

Obama has called for a per-takeoff fee on flights that could run as high as $100. The suggestion was one of his proposals to the supercommittee tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving.

The president's proposal also includes a $7.50 increase in the security taxes passengers pay each way on trips.


In a blog post this week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly urged the airline's customers to contact their representatives to help ground the proposal.

"As a valued Customer of Southwest Airlines, I am writing to urge you to speak out against the proposed increase in federal taxes on the airline industry and help keep the cost of air travel affordable," Kelly wrote on the Southwest website. "Recently, the White House sent a proposal to Congress that recommends two significant tax increases on the airline industry, a mandatory departure tax and an increased security tax. We need you to lend your voice and tell Congress to OPPOSE increasing taxes on air travel."

Kelly said the proposed taxes "will greatly impact the industry and cost the airlines $3.5 billion annually and $36 billion over the next ten years.

"The increase in taxes is a cost our airline, our passengers, and our industry simply cannot absorb without having devastating effects on our business and the overall U.S. economy," he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based Air Transport Association, which has launched a campaign against the proposal, circulated a letter last week to House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters MORE (D-Nev.) and supercommittee co-chairmen Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayNo. 3 Senate Democrat says Biden should tap Black woman for Supreme Court Biden's pledge to appoint Black woman back in spotlight amid Breyer retirement Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE (D-Wash.).

The letter, which calls for the supercommittee to reject the takeoff tax proposal, was signed by 119 House members.