Friday, June 4, 2010

The NYT Declares War On Low Airline Prices

This is some pretty ignorant stuff, even for the NYT:
Airlines complain that delays and other inconveniences are often not their fault but the result of inadequate airport infrastructure or other causes. They argue that regulations will only lead to increased prices and other unintended consequences.

These arguments should not stay regulators’ hands. It is true that many airlines are barely profitable. But the road to profitability should not be built on stranded passengers and crummy service. And the warnings about the unintended consequences of regulation should be taken with a large grain of salt.
So, apparently, airline regulation either doesn't have unintended consequences or somehow the unintended consequences that might arise are magically marginal in nature-- this would put the airline economy in a separate class from the rest of the economy and connote a special, unique airline economic theory.

And apparently the airlines' profitability (totally questionable as the airline industry, like the American automobile manufacturing industry, has been the recipient of government bailouts for decades) is built on serving their customers poorly when they could just as easily (that is, no additional cost) serve them well. What villains!

Or maybe the NYT is hinting that the airline industry should be nationalized, and the nasty profit-motive banished. Or maybe they don't care if some airlines can't stay profitable and go out of business, because somehow, in airline economic theory, a lower supply of airlines and routes does not lead to higher prices for remaining airlines and routes.

Or maybe the NYT figures none of this matters because the airline industry can just be handed another bailout if they become unprofitable.

The editorial ignores the consideration that many of the current problems in the airline industry in terms of wait, delays, high costs and "crummy service" might have originated in the government's regulatory crack-down following September 11th, 2001, and it further ignores the contribution that oppressive government security measures make to the overall inglorious state of American air travel and concludes:
In late April, a new rule went into effect that set a three-hour limit on the time airlines can keep passengers waiting on the tarmac before letting them get off. That same month, airlines’ punctuality rose, three-hour delays were virtually wiped out and despite airlines’ warnings that flight cancellations would rise, they plunged. This might be a coincidence, but we suspect not.
So, once again, was there no cost? Because if there was no cost than surely the airline industry is populated by some of the most sick, sadistic and sociopathic cretins around. "But I suspect not."

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