Friday, January 21

DID AIRLINE DEREGULATION SERVE THE BEST INTERESTS OF THIS COUNTRY?

This is a sobering story for America's frequent flyers. Nearly $3.2 billion in fourth quarter losses in the airline industry in 2004 and still counting! Has to make one ask if the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act was good legislation and a wise decision. If you want a cheap ticket on a 50-seater commuter jet that will have your knees tucked under your chin in a fetal-like position and you're willing to get to a tired looking regional airport by 6:00am, then you no doubt love what the federal government has done for you. But I'm old enough to remember when air travel was infinitely better than a seat on a Greyhound bus and you had a choice of hot meals even back in the coach cabin. I even remember when Delta was a marvelous airline with first-rate service and clean aircraft.

I'm a capitalist, I believe in competition, and I know that a Darwinian law of survival induces management teams to improve continuously their products and customer service, while reducing costs and seeking advantages in technology and productivity enhancements. Indeed, low-cost, quality products are the hallmark of strong managerial cultures. But, what deregulation has wrought in the airline industry should give sober pause, and particulary to those who live in small and mid-size cities.

Thoughts, comments?