Airlines Want Aircraft Costs Kept Secret

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What do airliners really cost? That's nobody else's business, say U.S. airlines fighting to keep that information secret. The financial details of commercial aircraft transactions are recorded by the Department of Transportation but for the past 10 years, at the request of the airlines, they've been kept confidential. Now, the government (spurred by the financial industry) is considering releasing all that information and the airlines are trying to block it. "We do not want our competitors to have this information, nor do they want us to have theirs," United Parcel Service spokesman David Bolger told Bloomberg News. But financial experts claim the secrecy is hurting the industry more than disclosure would. Airlines are normally financed on the open market and the lack of credible information on aircraft value is gradually eroding confidence in those types of investments. Because there has been no information on the value of new aircraft for 10 years, appraisers can't accurately assess the value of airplanes that financiers may be considering investing in. In one case, five appraisers estimated the value of a Boeing 747-400 and their guesses ranged from $38 million to $54 million. John Vitale, president of AVITAS, a Virginia appraiser, said the airlines may be shortsighted in trying to keep their secrets because public markets depend on a free flow of information. "I think releasing the data would facilitate that," he said.