25 October 2008

US domestic air transport deregulation 30 years later

This week saw the thirtieth anniversary of the economic deregulation of the US domestic airline industry under the Carter Administration.

To mark the occasion on 23 October 2008 the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice held a Workshop on Airline Competition at which some of the leading academics in the airline field presented papers (HT to Aviation Law Prof Blog).

Also marking the occasion were three articles complete with commentaries in the Summer 2008 issue of the Houston Law Review and a short article, Why You Hate to Fly, by Evan Sparks in The American magazine.

Bill Swelbar from MIT has four postings on his weblog:
The second posting finishes with an intriguing comment: "In the future, look to the horizon for the new competitive battleground. It will be more about Auckland than Amarillo. It really will."

To cap it off Kieran Daly noted that, one of the biggest beneficiaries of deregulation, Southwest had just announced its first quarterly loss in 17 years as a result of having to mark to market its fuel hedging.

I remember in the 1980s reading that the airline industry was proving to be less contestable than the advocates of economic deregulation had thought it would be. The industry certainly has had a bumpy ride from a financial perspective but consumers have enjoyed huge benefits. I continue to have an open mind as to whether the economic policy advisers and regulators, of which I am one here in New Zealand, have it right. The above links point to plenty of food for thought.

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