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Questions raised about booking tactics between large and regional airlines

Spectators look at an Airbus A380 airplane flying above them.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The National Transportation Safety Board today convened a panel looking at safety implications of code-sharing agreements between big airlines and smaller ones. Six of the last fatal airline crashes in this country involved smaller, regional carriers. And that's raised questions about how airlines book passengers with other carriers.

Seth Kaplan is with Airline Weekly. He's with us live from Cairo, Egypt. Hi Seth.

SETH KAPLAN: Good morning, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: What's the difference between the way large and regional carriers operate?

KAPLAN: Well, the large carriers sell the tickets, and sometimes they carry you themselves on the larger jets -- jets that we fly between New York and Los Angeles, for example, or the ones we fly internationally. But sometimes the contract out the flights to these smaller, regional carries. And you know when you're on a regional jet with 50 seats --

CHIOTAKIS: It's the smaller ones.

KAPLAN: Exactly. In terms of safety, ostensibly, there's no difference between the two. They have the same standards. In reality, some of the criticism of regional airlines is that their pilots do tend to have less experience. They earn less money which means that maybe they live a little bit far from work and maybe their a little bit more tired when they get to work.

CHIOTAKIS: I want to talk Seth, and I hate to interrupt you. The Continental CEO last June said his airline doesn't have the resources to oversee safety at all of its code-sharing partners. That it's the responsibility of the FAA. That's a bold statement. What does the FAA have to say about that?

KAPLAN: Technically, he's correct. The FAA is who over sees safety. But economically speaking for the airlines obviously they have a real interest in making sure that their passengers are being carried safely. Because when that turbo-prop was operated by a regional and went down outside Buffalo everybody read in the newspaper these were Continental passengers.

CHIOTAKIS: But it was a regional airline that went down.

KAPLAN: So there's a real incentive for the main lines to make sure that their passengers are safe.

CHIOTAKIS: Seth Kaplan from Airline Weekly, thanks.

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