“Argentina’s new, libertarian President Javier Milei announced a so-called “open skies” initiative that will scrap many of the regulations prohibiting foreign airlines from operating flights between Argentinian cities. Combined with the abolition of government price controls on airfares, the new rules will allow foreign airlines to directly compete with Aerolineas Argentinas, the national airline that has managed to lose an estimated $8 billion since 2008 despite having a monopoly on domestic flights.
America, thankfully, does not have a government-owned monopoly responsible for domestic air travel. However, the federal government does prohibit foreign airlines from operating flights between American cities. That means Americans have only a few choices when it comes to flying domestically—and on some less commonly traveled routes, maybe no choice at all.
Those restrictions on “cabotage” by foreign-owned and -operated airlines are naked protectionism for the shrinking number of American-based airlines. As always, consumers pay the price—and could reap the benefits of greater competition.
A 2020 paper by researchers at the Brookings Institution, Bayes Data Intelligence, and Washington State University, for example, found that American travelers would realize $1.6 billion in annual benefits from the entry of just one foreign airline into the U.S. market.
Some of those benefits would be rather straightforward: lower prices created by greater competition. But other benefits would likely materialize too. If given the chance to expand their operations into the United States, low-cost European airlines like Ryanair could bring their innovative business models to this side of the Atlantic.
Indeed, as the Cato Institute’s Scott Lincicome pointed out in a post for The Dispatch last year, the elimination of national monopolies and cabotage regulations in Europe during the 1990s has produced a flourishing market that includes legacy brands (like Air France and Lufthansa) along startups like Ryanair, WOW, and others.
The result: “These airlines have low prices, lots of fans, and (unsurprisingly) tons of capacity,” Lincicome wrote. In the United States, a similar arrangement could lead to “lower fares, more routes/capacity, more jobs—and no federal subsidies or brute force needed.””
“Rather than add to the complexity of domestic fare pricing with the threat of compelled cash payments, wouldn’t U.S. air travelers benefit more from having a wider array of airlines to choose among?
Given the authorization to do so, top global performers such as Singapore Airlines, the Dubai-based Emirates, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, and Australia’s Qantas could enter the U.S. market to challenge American legacy carriers on the high-revenue routes that link dynamic American regions.”
“At the other end of the market, budget carriers such as Ireland’s Ryanair, Britain’s EasyJet, and Malaysia’s AirAsia provide no-frills travel that could put downward pressure on economy-class fares within the U.S. and give travelers more choice and market power.”
“These are the sorts of proposals that sound good in theory—who wouldn’t want to pay less in junk fees? But some of these fees exist for good reasons. (Late fees, for instance, encourage people to pay their bills on time, which is good for both credit card companies and for users, who will otherwise rack up more interest to pay back.) And in any event, companies aren’t simply going to say, “OK, we’ll just make less money.”
Hotels may respond by raising base room rates or charging new fees for typical amenities. Airlines that can’t charge for choosing your seat may raise base ticket prices, baggage fees, or other costs. Banks that can’t fine people for overdrawing their accounts may raise rates for opening an account, require higher minimum balances, or deny more people bank accounts to begin with. Credit card companies that can’t charge late fees may deny more lines of credit or charge higher interest rates. And so on.
All the Biden administration is really doing is shifting people’s costs around.”
“massive flight cancelations from are a good reminder of what a raw deal those bailouts were for taxpayers and consumers. Rather than allow the shock of the pandemic to create some needed disruption in the passenger airline industry, Congress chose to prop up a messy status quo.
The $7 billion Southwest received from three COVID relief bills allowed ineffective practices at the airline to persist. Allowing the competitive pressures to more freely do their work might have spurred some productive change within Southwest.”
“”Data on overall traffic trends supports the notion that the average flier has not been negatively affected by consolidation,” the Eno Center for Transportation, a research nonprofit, found in 2017. “As the industry has consolidated and grown throughout the decades, the number of seats that are available for passenger use—available seat miles—has increased multiple times over. By some measures, the cost of domestic air travel has remained level since 2006, adjusting for inflation.”
However, there is some evidence that certain mergers have led to price increases. As a 2016 data analysis by travel writer JT Genter found, “On average, airfares between former Delta and Northwest hubs increased substantially—much more than the national average—demonstrating that the Delta-Northwest merger wasn’t good for hub-based flyers.” Genter continued, “However, airfares between United and Continental hubs have seen much more modest increases over the last five years, and the fares have actually decreased on average over the last four years.”
Current evidence, though not uniformly supportive of all mergers, points toward them being generally good for consumers. Larger airlines tend to mean more flights at similar or lower prices—especially when traveling through hubs. Even when evidence points to some mergers resulting in price hikes for consumers, Warren and Padilla’s assertions that airline consolidation “routinely heaps inconvenience and abuse on consumers” are exaggerated.”
“the idea of supersonic flight is appealing because it’s extremely fast and would shave hours off of transoceanic flights. That’s not to mention that it would be pretty cool to travel faster than the speed of sound.”https://www.vox.com/recode/22508975/united-supersonic-plane-concorde-boom-hermeus-virgin-nasa
“the fastest speed that a train has ever achieved—not while carrying passengers, mind you, but just as an experiment—is 357 mph. Over long distances, while carrying passengers and making stops at stations, the world’s speediest train is China’s Beijing to Nanjing line, which runs at slightly less than 200 mph.
Meanwhile, the average speed of a commercial jet in the United States is about 500 mph.
That’s not even close to being an apples-to-apples comparison. After all, planes carrying passengers used to routinely break the sound barrier (roughly 760 mph, though it varies based on atmospheric conditions), and experimental aircraft have gone far faster. Still, the world’s fastest train still finishes a distant second when matched up against an average, boring Boeing 737.”