Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The good, bad & ugly of airline deregulation

More than three decades after it was adopted as federal policy, U.S. airline deregulation continues to be both praised as a great democratizer of travel, lowering costs to consumers and opening the world to the masses, and questioned for its shortcomings, including leading to less competition and less service for many communities and for allowing market power to be concentrated in too few hands.Two recent essays I've seen raise provocative questions about whether deregulation continues to deliver on its promises of a better and more efficient air-transportation system.

The good, bad & ugly of airline deregulation

More than three decades after it was adopted as federal policy, U.S. airline deregulation continues to be both praised as a great democratizer of travel, lowering costs to consumers and opening the world to the masses, and questioned for its shortcomings, including leading to less competition and less service for many communities and for allowing market power to be concentrated in too few hands.Two recent essays I've seen raise provocative questions about whether deregulation continues to deliver on its promises of a better and more efficient air-transportation system.

One, in the magazine Washington Monthly, looks at how the concentration of service with fewer and fewer airlines using hub-and-spoke route systems has hurt service in a number of major cities that are no longer hubs. It's very long and detailed, has generated some criticism from readers, and can be found here. The other, much shorter essay, deals with a subject that's been covered often in this blog: Why federal regulators are required these days to monitor and try to make more transparent the true cost of airline tickets, given the fees that most carriers have adopted in recent years. It was written by the Radnor-based Business Travel Coalition and can be found at this link.   

Tom Belden
About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

Tom Belden
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