Why Airline CEOs Are Donating To Political Parties

In the lead up to what is touted to be the most important US election in recent years the CEOs of some of America’s biggest airlines appear to be banking right.

United jet take-off
Oscar Munoz donated $2,500 to the PAC for 2020 elections. Photo: United Airlines

With just 13 months left until pivotal 2020 US elections, Skift writes of the tendency of some airline CEOs to partiality. United’s Oscar Munoz, Southwest’s Gary Kelly and American’s Doug Parker have this year donated several thousands of dollars to a committee known for its support of Republican nominees.

The Responsibility and Freedom Work PAC has so far received $5,000 from Parker, $2,500 from Munoz and the same from Kelly, according to Skift. In addition, Sharon Pinkerton, senior VP of Airlines for America has donated $1,000.


None has donated to the PAC in previous elections.


Republican slant

The PAC is associated with some of the most right-wing and controversial nominees of the Grand Old Party. This year alone it donated $60,000 of proceeds to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect members to the Republican chairs of the senate.

A further $45,000 was donated to NRSC Victory. Earlier this year records show the targeted state victory fund to be worth in excess of $1 million. The victory fund is known to support staunch Republicans such as Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell.

American Airlines ground crew at work
Doug Parker of American has for the first time donated to the predisposed PAC. Photo: American Airlines

The recent release of information showing the slant of the CEOs of American et al. is surprising to industry analysts. Previous donations (if they were made) have been to the benefit of both Democrats and Republicans alike.

These latest figures hint at the want of some airlines to continue to benefit from the Republican devotion to big business profitability and fortune.

What is the Responsibility and Freedom Work PAC?

The Responsibility and Freedom Work PAC is a United States Federal Political Committee. The Committee collects financial contributions from voters in aid of candidates for federal office.

However, the PAC is increasingly seen as favoring GOP nominees and senators. Its spending in 2017 was, according to Skift, directed in the main to Republican candidates. Especially those who held divisive views on gun control and the rights of the gay community.

In so being labelled a Republican drip feed, the committee has garnered donations from transport executives and bosses of corporate giants. Those who consider the GOP’s policies to go further than most towards aggrandizing profits albeit at the expense of customer’s rights and privileges.

Why donate to the PAC?

The simple truth of the matter is that the airlines mentioned (and others) donate to the PAC because they believe it will be good for business. And as luck would have it the PAC benefits the one party that airlines favor above any other.

Pilot in front of southwest airlines jet
Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest makes his opinion felt with a $2,500 donation. Photo: Southwest Airlines

The Republicans have a long history of siding with airlines at the expense of the passenger. And today, their influence on the balance sheets of major airlines is more obvious than ever.

The GOP has consistently shot down Bills of Rights that promised airline consumer protection. It has also blocked laws governing the transparency of airline fees. In short, airlines favor the Republican way of life because it does away with their need to worry about niggling personal rights and equality.

We have contacted Southwest Airlines for further comment but have so far received no reply. The carrier however makes no secret of the fact that all of its employees give money to the PAC in order to achieve the most beneficial status quo.

And the PAC makes no secret of the fact that it supports Republican reform.


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Very hard to understand. When one side is determined to make your business illegal, who do you think airlines are going to back? Remember, in the useful idiot future, AOC and the like fly on private Jets, and we in the proletariat get to travel on government run choo choo trains.

In-Frequent Flyer

Politicizing airlines is quite literally the worst thing anyone could do; especially in times like this where there is a ton of division in the system right now. If anything, they should be politically neutral to avoid problems. Thank you for pointing this out, but this may also cause people to avoid certain airlines simply because they support one party.


Airlines, like most large businesses, end up giving to both sides to cover their bases. As the Dems are out of power, it’s not surprising that they are – for the moment – pouring more into the GOP. However, when the Dems finally nominate someone, (unless it’s Bernie or Warren), the $$ will start flowing that way, as well.

And, as a gay Libertarian, I can most assuredly tell you that “divisive” is in the eyes of the beholder, as many of us find plenty of the Dem positions equally so.

747 Braniff Place

The author would it make it seem that the United States needs more aviation regulations. Someone has to pay for the crazy regulations that the author “thinks” we need – which we don’t. I, as the consumer and the employer who pays for business travel ends up paying for unnecessary regulations that do NOTHING what the author suggests to enhance aviation safety or improve air traffic control. Many of these protections are already in place – and I don’t need the government to hold my hand to figure out what the cost of an airline ticket is. If you learned… Read more »