So once again two of America’s largest airlines are going to merge. Whatever happened to freedom of choice? I for one, would think that this deal would be denied. Remember when we used to have good, cheap phone service? Some of you reading this article are probably too young to remember way back when there was only one phone company. Fondly referred to as Ma Bell, American Telephone and Telegraph – AT&T - was the only game in town. No matter where you lived in the good old USA, if you wanted a telephone in your home, AT&T was the company that would not only provide you with the phone itself, but also the service. However, after years of being the only provider, AT&T’s service got worse and worse. They did not really have to care about their reputation nor their prices or service. There simply was no other provider. The Feds decided we needed competition, so it was declared that Ma Bell had a monopoly and needed to be broken up in order for competition to flourish. What happened after the breakup was mass confusion. There did not seem to be any clear delineation between the fledgling companies that began to offer “service.” After years of horrible service and companies that came and went like the wind, the industry once again began to consolidate.
Nowadays, there are a few companies to choose phone service from, but their prices are high and there customer service lacking.
My suspicion is that once American Airlines and US Airways merge, things will go south. Sure, smaller, regional airlines can step in and provide competition, but will they? We have all seen the tough struggle small airlines have in competing with the big boys. Southwest is one of the exceptions, it has gained foothold and has become a well respected, profitable, well managed company with low fares and good service. Oh sure, there will be huge promotions by the new American Air/US Air company touting its expanded routes and fantastic service. But, the real truth will be told five or ten years down the line after the honeymoon is over. If history repeats itself, then we will be in for price increases, and customer service that will have the attitude of “who cares?”
I hope I’m wrong. My concern is that Americans will have only three major airlines from which to choose, and that prices will be rigged between the three. Who knows, maybe they will decide to merge into one giant airline – the Ma Bell of the aviation world.