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The cost of airline deregulation has been a mixed bag

This year Southwest celebrates its 40th birthday and, can you believe it, in their wild and crazy airline industry, with bankruptcies and mega-losses ..
This year Southwest celebrates its 40th birthday and, can you believe it, in their wild and crazy airline industry, with bankruptcies and mega-losses ..
ethix.org

In 1978 Airline Deregulation Act was passed by Congress, during President Carter’s one and only term. President Carter embraced deregulation as a means of stimulating economic growth.

The results of that change are mixed to say the least.

Deregulation opened the way for such carriers as People Express(now defunct) and JetBlue, and allowed low-cost Southwest Airlines — which had up until then operated only within Texas, outside of CAB's reach — to expand nationwide.

Airlines were forced to compete on price and allowed to develop new routes, a move that saved consumers millions and paved the way for the rise of low-cost, no-frills carriers.

While consumers benefited when airline fares went down initially, that race to the bottom put some Airlines out of business, While that is what a free market is all about, the consequences were not necessarily a good thing.

This was taken a step further years later as airlines often merged with their rivals reducing the competition for the consumer and the initial benefit of lower fares.

This continues today as we have in essence an oligopoly.

While airline fares haven’t risen at the rate they did prior to regulation, the price that the consumer is paying are annoying add-ons, such as fees for checked bags and in some cases reserving a seat.

But this race to the bottom has occurred in other ways. For example there are fewer planes in an airline’s fleet and those aircraft have narrower seats and reduced legroom, making air travel less comfortable.

The other issue that no Airline likes to talk about is some are subcontracting the servicing of their airplanes to a third party, sometime even in another country to save money.

While the airline safety record hasn’t been visibly affected in so far as an increase in airline crashes, that is not to attribute that to the outsourcing the plane maintenance, but rather more sophisticated computer technology on board the aircraft as well as better built airplanes.

So while in post 9-11, air travel has become onerous, due to the stringent and length security clearance, that aggravation, can’t obviously blamed on the airlines.

That said, with fewer scheduled flights and uncomfortable seating, the whole flying experience in America, leaves a lot to be desired.

And that is where everyone loses in the long run.