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.