Business Notes


Airline passenger satisfaction is up for the first time since '03

A new study shows airlines are doing a better job of taking care of the passengers they still have. Passenger satisfaction with airline service rose more than 3 percent earlier this year, according to a new University of Michigan study. That's the first time in six years that airlines have seen their score rise. The increase comes as the number of passengers drops and airlines have reduced flying. Southwest Airlines has the highest score. The biggest improvers were Continental Airlines and US Airways, which both rose more than 9 percent. United Airlines was unchanged in last place. Claes Fornell led the study. He says businesses that are losing money have a tough time providing good service.

Geithner: Set pay standards for financial institutions

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the government should not impose caps on executive pay in the financial sector. However, he said Monday, government can set compensation standards to curb excessive risk-taking by financial institutions. Such standards could combine with compensation disclosure requirements and giving shareholders the ability to vote on salary packages. Geithner made his comments during an interview at a Newsweek-hosted luncheon. Wall Street bonuses and retention packages have provoked anger among the public and in Congress. Lawmakers have moved to limit pay for top employees at financial institutions that have received federal government assistance. The standards envisioned by Geithner would apply to all financial institutions. Geithner also said the economy is stabilizing but unemployment would continue to rise. He pointed to positive signs in the economy, including improvements in credit markets. But he called the recession the most challenging economic crisis the nation has seen in generations. "We're not going to have a steady, even process of repair," he said. "It's going to be bumpy and still feel fragile for a while. It's not going to feel better for a long time for millions of Americans."

Postal Service has cut jobs

The U.S. Postal Service has slashed 25,000 jobs this year as it struggles to reduce a massive budget deficit. Postmaster General John Potter said Monday that agency employment is below 635,000, down from about 800,000 in 1999. Thousands of carrier routes have been eliminated as mail volume declines. Potter said the service has an infrastructure that it can't afford based on finances. The service faces a potential deficit of $6.5 billion this fiscal year. He stressed that the main problem is the weak economy and that the post office is "anxiously awaiting a turnaround."