AP: If it's harder for new entrants, is that a good thing for the traveling public? And where do you see fares going?
BASTIAN: I think we have more rational disruptors. There's always going to be a low cost, low fare component to the aviation space. Years ago it was Southwest. Today it's Spirit and Allegiant.
Fares are still lower today than they were then. We charge differently, with a fee component and a base component, and charge travelers for what they value in a product. But it's a much more stable, rational business that benefits everybody.
AP: Does the Transportation Security Administration need to make changes to get your travelers to their gates quicker?
ANDERSON: We're the third biggest industry in the U.S., after agriculture and oil. So if we want economic development and economic growth, and we want this city full of people traveling here, we need to let people know that you're never going to have more than a 15-minute wait in security. One of the key ways to get there is with PreCheck (the government's pre-screening system). Our ultimate goal needs to be 75 to 80 percent PreCheck.
It's going to be a matter of using the data. It's amazing how much information is out there. If you go to a normal consumer data company like Axiom or Nexis or Equifax, they have massive databases with scoring technologies. And so I think it's a matter of taking the kind of technology that we have in the financial world and bringing that to bear at the security checkpoint.
AP: In the next five years, what do you expect would be two or three changes the flying public could see?
ANDERSON: We were really the first to pioneer a ubiquitous Wi-Fi product, so we have Wi-Fi across our system. And the next piece of what we're going to do there is stored content; so the ability to provide entertainment on all of our airplanes through stored content to your own device, on the internal Wi-Fi of the airplane.
AP: For a fee?
ANDERSON: We're talking about that. We actually think there would be a piece that we would probably offer to all the passengers on the airplane. And then if you wanted, you could buy other things.
AP: How about allowing voice communications?
ANDERSON: No. Our customer survey data tell us that consumers do not want that on the airplane.
AP: Business travelers are willing to pay a premium to fly Delta. What about the guy just looking for the fare that's $10 cheaper on Expedia.com?
ANDERSON: Well, we believe that we are in the market to serve all customers. From the value-minded customer that wants to buy four months ahead of time to the IBMs and Procter & Gambles of the world (which buy at the last minute). It's still an incredibly competitive marketplace, with American, United, Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue, Spirit and Allegiant. Which is how it should be.
AP: We've had 9/11, we've had volcanic ash, we've had Federal Aviation Administration furloughs. What's the thing that's keeping you up at night?
ANDERSON: You know, I don't know that there's really anything that keeps us up at night. The business is running well and continues to run well. There are risks out there, but I think the industry is now consolidated to a point where we have a very stable model.
AP: And oil prices?
ANDERSON: We assume oil is going to stay high, and even if it doesn't we would rather build our business plan assuming jet fuel is going to be $4.40 or $4.50 a gallon in a few years.