The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has indefinitely suspended comment periods on two late-term Obama administration regulatory actions related to how airlines display airfares and ancillary fees, essentially freezing the regulatory process on the actions.

DOT said the suspension would “allow [President Donald Trump’s] appointees the opportunity to review and consider [these] action[s].”

The suspensions are in reference to a Request for Information (RFI) on “Exploring Industry Practices on Distribution and Display of Airline Fare, Schedule and Availability Information,” originally published on Oct. 31, 2016, and a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) on “Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees,” published Jan. 19, 2017.

Both proposed regulatory actions garnered considerable industry pushback, described in various quarters as being both government regulatory overreach and potentially harmful to the US airline industry.

“The [SNPRM] on Display of Ancillary Fees would have allowed the government to dictate how airlines sell and distribute products and services, and the Request for Information on Airline Distribution Practices would have allowed the government to interfere in the commercial relationship between airlines and their distribution partners,” US airline industry association Airlines for America (A4A) said.

A4A president and CEO Nicholas Calio backed DOT secretary Elaine Chao on the move.  “[We] look forward to an era of smarter regulation that protects consumers from unfair practices, but does not step in when action is not warranted,” Calio said. “[DOT’s] action is a common sense measure reinforcing that the airline industry is capable of making the decisions that best serve our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”

Mark Nensel