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Solution To US Airlines - Fare Control Regulation  
User currently offlineJetfuel From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 2225 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 3212 times:

Firstly I dislike regulation, however I hate seeing the US Airline system in such a mess. Most of this mess has come about, not because of fuel costs, but due to mismangement. Airlines predatory behavior has to be stopped and the crazy fare wars halted so that airlines can compete based on service to their customers.

Solution - How about a very minimised regulatory body stipulating the minimum fare that can be charged for certain flights within the USA and/or from the USA? The actions of carriers like GO! would be immediately prevented. Airlines would be free to compete above a certain minimum fare level. Airlines could return some profitabilty to provide better service and finance new aircraft.

I appreciate this is not a cure all and is still has inadequacies and the suggestion below is just a concept example, not necessarily what the levels would need to be. Perhaps the fare levels could be reviewed quarterly against a formula linked to inflation/interest rates/oil costs.

Could this work to stop the industry throat cutting each other like they ahve been? Yes fares would rise, yes customers would cry, even maybe total passenger numbers would drop, but do you think this type of system would help save the mes?


Example ONLY

Miles Route Ex MIn Fare

1-100 LAX-SAN $ 60
101-300 LAX-LAS $ 90
301-500 LAX-SFO $130
501-750 SFO-SEA $150
750-1000 ORD-MCO $170
1000-1500 LAX-DFW $200
1500-2000 LAX-ORD $220
2000-2500 LAX-EWR $240
2501-3000 LAX-MIA $260
3001-4000 JFK-LHR $350
4001-5000 JFK-HNL $400
5001-6000 LAX-LHR $450
6001-7500 LAX-SYD $550
7501-9000 LAX-SIN $650


Where's the passion gone out of the airline industry? The smell of jetfuel and the romance of taking a flight....
49 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineMarSciGuy From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 549 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 3197 times:

Re-regulating the industry would be in direct contradiction of a market economy, but if you want to go back to pre-1960's aviation days, then possibly...though I doubt 650 dollar fares from LAX to SIN would be profitable for anyone!


"There weren't a ton of gnats there where a ton of gnats and their families as well!"
User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 3198 times:

Well, it was before my time, but I think you've pretty neatly described many of the most important characteristics of the pre-1978 regulated air travel system. There's an argument to be made that this is the "correct" way to provision what is arguably a public good, but this:

Quote:
Yes fares would rise, yes customers would cry, even maybe total passenger numbers would drop, but do you think this type of system would help save the mes?

also quite neatly describes the effects of the deregulated market. Fares went down and passenger numbers went way, way up. Part of the flip side is that you also had a lot more airlines fail -- were there ANY major airlines to fail during regulation? Presumably so, but I can't think of one off the top of my head.

I think it boils down to whether you prefer a traditional capitalistic provider of air travel services, or something more akin to a public utility model. In this country -- and as far as I'm aware, most other countries besides -- it's something mostly resembling the former, though there are a large number of competitive distortions that affect the provision of air travel services.

[Edited 2008-05-02 15:30:58]


New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineJetfuel From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 2225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 3183 times:



Quoting MarSciGuy (Reply 1):

I was only suggesting a very minimised regulatory body stipulating the minimum fare that can be charged. Certainly not with all the restraints of the old regulations. The fares listed were just an example of how it might work.



Where's the passion gone out of the airline industry? The smell of jetfuel and the romance of taking a flight....
User currently offlineSunriseValley From Canada, joined Jul 2004, 4986 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3100 times:

Split the fuel out from the other costs and add it as a separate item as electrical utilities do. My natural gas supplier bills me the gas at cost ; they make their money off the distribution component which is the stable part of the business costwise.
In my view the volatility of the fuel component makes it necessary that it be recovered separately.


User currently offlineRailmatt From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 212 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3088 times:

Depending on the political party in power at the time, some form of re-regulation is possible.

Here is the scenerio I see which would push congress to act:

A super-spike in jet fuel prices occur.

Two or more network carriers cease operations, leaving tens of thousands unemployed.

Dozens of cities with a population 100,000-250,000 are left with no service, quickly swamping the Essential Air Service program's funding.

Remaining air carriers don't act to fill the void.

No new carriers are started because the banks and investors are not confident they will get their money back.


User currently offline2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1069 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3051 times:



Quoting Railmatt (Reply 5):
Here is the scenerio I see which would push congress to act:

A super-spike in jet fuel prices occur.

Two or more network carriers cease operations, leaving tens of thousands unemployed.

Dozens of cities with a population 100,000-250,000 are left with no service, quickly swamping the Essential Air Service program's funding.

Remaining air carriers don't act to fill the void.

No new carriers are started because the banks and investors are not confident they will get their money back.

I disagree that these items would make congress act to re-regulate the airlines.

Lets face it. Cost are going to rise, and a lot of people who took trips because they were cheap and it was fun to spend a weekend somewhere won't anymore.

Overall, I estimate at least a 20% permanent reduction in passenger counts. Airlines will in fact fail as system capacity adjust to the new market realities. Certain cities will also loose service - because their is not enough of a demand to pay for routine service.


User currently offlineSCCutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5520 posts, RR: 28
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3050 times:

Re-regulation: stunningly bad idea.

Imagine, further reducing the incentive of carriers to be competitive.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineBreaker1011 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 938 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3036 times:

The only problem with charging by the mile is that it's notably more costly to fly shorter trips than it is longer trips. There are fewer miles to spread the same base and fixed costs over (primarily the costs of handling the pax and aircraft at each end). So while it seems intuitive, you'd have to account for the high CASM for short-hops somehow in your grid.

Quoting SCCutler (Reply 7):
Imagine, further reducing the incentive of carriers to be competitive.

True from one standpoint - but if you were flying in the 1970's under a regulated industry - service on most US carriers was top-notch, and carriers competed for passengers based on real product/service features and benefits. They did because they didn't have to worry so much about price - it was what it was. Who had the friendliest staff, the best meals, the most comfortable seats, the best schedules were the airlines that scored more customers and thereby more profits. Flying was almost glamorous yet reasonably priced for what it was.

The original poster doesn't have a bad idea here. If you take away the route proceedings of the original CAB and keep the "route" market open and free (aside from slot restricted airports), then re-regulation could be purely about price. I just don't think that's a terrible idea, and keeps the playing field a bit more level between legacy with legacy costs and LCC's with lower costs just by nature of their age in the business.

Ah well, guess we'll see!



Life's tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid. J. Wayne
User currently onlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3592 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3009 times:

The continuing problem in the USA'a airline industry is a direct result of the continued meddling of the government in the system.

The EAS causing air service to be put into economically unviable markets.

Government bail-outs keeping airlines from liquidating.

Local governments subsidizing local service.

This has led to an oversupply of airlines with the resultant low fares and unprofitability.

Top this off with the FAA not keeping up the necessary ATC infrastructure dispite a boatload of money on account from excise taxes increasing airlines' costs.

The better idea would be to let the airlines merge/fold until we reach a reasonable equilibrium.

The market will take care of it if the government would get the heck out of the way.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8964 posts, RR: 39
Reply 10, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3011 times:

Quoting Jetfuel (Thread starter):
Airlines predatory behavior

Is as bad as it is today because of anti-trust regulation, which basically is the government inciting predatory behavior to "protect the customer" but is destroying the industry. Airlines are saying enough, let's make peace agreements or lets merge, and government says "no, keep fighting". . . but they will continue to the death. Caught in the crossfire--the airline employee.

Allow mergers and you give airlines more pricing power. This is the only healthy control.

Let the market work its magic

ps: on top of what DLPMMM said. I'd also argue that the lack of value/congestion pricing at airports is driving airlines to over-rely on a frequency schedule, further increasing this bloody competition fight.

[Edited 2008-05-02 20:14:09]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineJetfuel From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 2225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3008 times:



Quoting Breaker1011 (Reply 8):
If you take away the route proceedings of the original CAB and keep the "route" market open and free (aside from slot restricted airports), then re-regulation could be purely about price. I just don't think that's a terrible idea, and keeps the playing field a bit more level between legacy with legacy costs and LCC's with lower costs just by nature of their age in the business.

Thankyou. You have at least thought about the merits and see that the concept of merely preventing airlines from cutting their own throats is far from a return to regulation (like the past)



Where's the passion gone out of the airline industry? The smell of jetfuel and the romance of taking a flight....
User currently offlineBreaker1011 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 938 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2970 times:



Quoting PPVRA (Reply 10):
Let the market work its magic

Problem is, the market's had 30 years now to work since the de-regulation act of 1978, and look at all the magic flying around today. Better yet, look at all the magic NOT flying around anymore.

This industry is deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle of LCC versus legacy behaviors that will keep it entrenched in good and bad cycles, back to good and back cycles, for eternity unless something is done to put sanity back into pricing.



Life's tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid. J. Wayne
User currently offlineKalvado From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2951 times:



Quoting SCCutler (Reply 7):
Re-regulation: stunningly bad idea.

Imagine, further reducing the incentive of carriers to be competitive.

Greenpeace-style suggestion: minimum ticket cost not to go below price of fuel burned per pax; environment-protection carbon-emission fee is charged on any fuel not directly charged to pax. Not a regulation per se, as I see it


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8964 posts, RR: 39
Reply 14, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2950 times:

Quoting Breaker1011 (Reply 12):
Problem is, the market's had 30 years now to work since the de-regulation act of 1978, and look at all the magic flying around today. Better yet, look at all the magic NOT flying around anymore.

This industry is deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle of LCC versus legacy behaviors that will keep it entrenched in good and bad cycles, back to good and back cycles, for eternity unless something is done to put sanity back into pricing.

The government is deeply involved in the industry, even after deregulation. It owns just about everything except the airplanes. Pricing sanity is market pricing, and that is sorely lacking in congested airports like JFK, EWR, ORD, ATL, LAX and many other smallers ones too, like CLT, DEN and CLE.

[Edited 2008-05-02 20:43:38]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineBreaker1011 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 938 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2936 times:



Quoting PPVRA (Reply 14):

The government is deeply involved in the industry, even after deregulation. It owns just about everything except the airplanes.

Not really sure what you mean here - what pieces of an airline does the US government own?



Life's tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid. J. Wayne
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11632 posts, RR: 61
Reply 16, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2927 times:

Price regulation will lead to one thing and one thing only: less choice for consumers. There will be fewer flights, fewer airlines, and less choices. Now, while that is - in general - what the industry needs, government regulation is the exact wrong way to go about it.

It will be exact like the fuel price caps back in 1970s: they failed then just like this would fail now. In a free market, it's simple economics: price controls lead to an artificial and non-market-induced constriction of supply.

It would be far better for the government to restore the industry to health by getting out of the damn way and letting nature take its course. That means mergers, that means liquidations. That doesn't mean price controls.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8964 posts, RR: 39
Reply 17, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2928 times:

Quoting Breaker1011 (Reply 15):
Not really sure what you mean here - what pieces of an airline does the US government own?

I meant the aviation industry as a whole. Airports, for example.

[Edited 2008-05-02 20:53:31]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3213 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2908 times:

I think you've got the wrong angle

The way to help them is to reduce frequency and hence FORCE an increase in a/c size across the board.
I will start a new thread on it... but in a nut shell it lowers CASM yet can maintain competitive prices. The reason things aren't done more efficiently now is that any airline that reduces frequency now loses customers.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8964 posts, RR: 39
Reply 19, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2900 times:

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 18):
The way to help them is to reduce frequency and hence FORCE an increase in a/c size across the board.

You don't need to pass such a draconian law like that to achieve your goals. Privatize airports and prices will increase at peak times and make small planes unprofitable, pushing airlines to use larger planes and thus increasing the efficient use of airports and airways in areas that are space-constraint.

[Edited 2008-05-02 21:05:30]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 5438 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2898 times:



Quoting Jetfuel (Reply 3):
I was only suggesting a very minimised regulatory body stipulating the minimum fare that can be charged.

There was a suggestion similar to yours in the Wall Street Journal a week or so ago. The author proposed that the airlines adopt the "shipping conference" mechanism that the ocean transportation companies use. Basically, they all get together on a regional basis and set the minimum rates for carriage in scheduled liner service. It's been working for 150 years or so more or less well with an antitrust exemption from every country. The rates are designed to make the average company profitable and prevent ruinous competition. It's not a free market, but entrance and exit is easy; and inefficient operators (US lines, for example) tend to wither away.



I love long German words like 'Freundschaftsbezeigungen'.
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19708 posts, RR: 58
Reply 21, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2885 times:



Quoting SCCutler (Reply 7):
Re-regulation: stunningly bad idea.

Imagine, further reducing the incentive of carriers to be competitive.

Well it appears that de-regulation was also a stunningly bad idea.

So what then is your solution to horrible service?


User currently offlineAnalog From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 1900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2879 times:



Quoting Jetfuel (Thread starter):
Firstly I dislike regulation, however I hate seeing the US Airline system in such a mess.

Firstly I dislike regulation, however I hate seeing the US ____ business in such a mess.

Insert any business in a downturn. Enjoy socialism/communism and the proven benefits of price control.


User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2862 times:

I say let the blood bath continue. Eventually the weak will wither and die and the less weak (I won't call them strong) will be left to carry the pax demand with higher prices and become healthier.
Case in point, Aloha is now gone. HA has increased service to and around the islands. Their share price has jumped. They survived, have picked up the pieces and are able to take more pax in Hawaii.
ATA, Champion, Skybus, ect. Someone will benefit from losing this competition.

Give us our $49 transcons for now. I know they won't last forever but whoever can take the pain the longest will live.


User currently offlineBreaker1011 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 938 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2834 times:

Quoting Analog (Reply 22):
Insert any business in a downturn. Enjoy socialism/communism and the proven benefits of price control.

How many "downturns" and "upturns" have we seen since deregulation? I agree with you, price "control" is probably too encompassing a word, and as he's stated, the original poster has some ideas here that are a far cry from communistic, give him a break. From a wholistic financial and investment perspective, this business has been in a permanent downturn for 30+ years, and has only had a few brief glimpses of what an "upturn" even looks like.

Quoting Futurecaptain (Reply 23):
I say let the blood bath continue.

The bloodbath has continued for 30 years now. 1978 - 2008. The industry has collectively never turned a profit, either prior to or post 1978. "Survival" in this business is relative to small intervals of time. Nothing done, the bloodbath will continue and this will remain one of the most unhealthy, unsecure and insecure industries on the planet. Big deal? Maybe not - depends on who's thinking about it. Right now the "can't live with them, can't live without them" situation of the US airline industry, whether in short-lived good times or bad, looks to be eternal.

Quoting Futurecaptain (Reply 23):
Give us our $49 transcons for now. I know they won't last forever but whoever can take the pain the longest will live.

Thus why your prospects of being happy and rich as a "future captain" should probably be re-evaluated. At this rate, silly-low fares WILL indeed last forever as new entrants with low or no overhead and cheaper, newer labor will always use their advantages to set the pricing in the industry even if it means going bust in 10 months while everyone else competing with them is in the red doing so. The little guys are busting up now and disappearing, but give it a year, the legacies will become healthier, have good times, and then boom, here come the new upstarts again to take advantage of a good condition in the industry. Then the legacies struggle, and there are bankruptcies... yada yada. Totally a vicious circle of existance.

As to your thoughts on Aloha and Hawaiian -

Cuts in capacity as a result of a failed or even a merged airline rarely last. Again - the circle of life. HA will simply not sit back for the rest of it's days and enjoy the vacated capacity that AQ left behind. Whether it's GO, UAX, or "Aloha Again Airlines" - history proves that someone will jump in and eat it up, and the danger here is that it might again be a new upstart LCC, with even lower costs/fares than go!, and welcome back Hawaiian to the bloodbath.

This is ultimately the #1 reason to doubt that failing airlines or merging airlines in the US will bring the industry back to health because capacity is reduced so that fares can rise. For every meaningful route a US airline dumps for whatever reason, you can bet at least two others scan it to see if they can fill the void. For every ATA and Aloha, you can bet there's either a new entrant or an existing carrier that's ready to order new ships or rearrange their flying to fill the void. The question has become - despite bankruptcies, mergers, etc - can capacity in the US airline business REALLY be reduced and "stay reduced" for anymore than a couple of quarters?

Case in point - everytime a merger proposition puts a hub or two at risk, you have Southwest and AirTran publicly salivating at the chance to snatch up gates and replace the "deduped" capacity. Most recently (18 mos) both companies expressed such intentions with the US/DL, UA/CO, and the DL/NW props.

Thanks for listening! Must be a slow night on the SciFi channel for me to type this much!

[Edited 2008-05-02 22:43:35]


Life's tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid. J. Wayne
25 Jetfuel : and 25 year old planes diminishing safety no blankets no pillows disgruntled employees no food shrinking seat pitch Future Captain ? of a sinking shi
26 Railmatt : Of course the market will work. But at the extremes of energy prices "working" could mean massive drops in frequency and airports served. Congress wil
27 Burkhard : Absolutely the wrong direction. Airlines can sell millions of tickets for 1$ and be very profitable. Just look at FR and learn from them. In nature, s
28 Breaker1011 : I was with you till this sentence - hidden meaning?
29 Davescj : This is why we'll keep seeing Congress involved in air transport (well, among many reasons). I think the OP is optimistic to thing we'll see a return
30 MHG : Why not implement a similar regulation to what we have here in Europe ... Airlines are not allowed to offer fares that are below their own "average pr
31 Davescj : This to me would make perfect sense........I like it. But, if PRO is the opposite of CON, is PROgress the opposite of CONgress? Read that thread on t
32 Par13del : Someone should have mentioned that to Virgin American supporters when they were going through their setup issues. Reality is that WN looks more and m
33 Futurecaptain : But have we ever had the industry this bad, the costs of operations so high, the barriers to entry so high? Lets continue to use HA and Aloha as my e
34 DocLightning : Until you get a monopoly. And then you have a monopoly without price control. And that's bad.
35 AirlineAddict : Not to mention fewer jobs which would be a very unpopular move by the new administration/congress.
36 Caspritz78 : Help! Why do you think some government agency is smarter then the airlines. Every time governments tried to control markets they failed and there were
37 EXAAUADL : wont work..here is why: Anti-consumer Would stop airline like WN from growing Would result in unemployment in the travel industry, hotels, Las Vegas,
38 EXAAUADL : PS: Nearly all US airlines were making money at LOWER fares bak in 2006 than today...what has happen since then is the price of oil has risen in USD.
39 Dartland : It's called a predatory pricing law and as a matter of fact, we have it in the US also! But for all the reasons you highlighted above with regard to
40 Burkhard : Not really hidden. I just read yesterday that US growth is above 3% again. Two strong motors: Export went up, no miracle given the $ rate. And everyb
41 Analog : Bankruptcy also works, except that finance companies/banks/governments/etc. sometimes keep on throwing money at bankrupt airlines. Of course that mon
42 BlueFlyer : The short answer to what would happen if the government set minimum fares is that, eventually, every carrier will sell every seat at that minimum fare
43 Analog : Why not separate out wage costs, maintenance costs, etc.? How would this "artificially raise fares"? It would raise fares, full stop. Other than disg
44 NorthstarBoy : If we're going to talk about corporate vs leisure travel we have to realize there's a paradox, the same people who fly Ord-Cle on company business for
45 Atmx2000 : He is proposing minimums not caps. Maybe, maybe not. Decreased flexibility from using larger aircraft will have its own effects. If ones goal is to g
46 DocLightning : If "fine" includes 3 hour delays as a regular part of service, then I agree. I don't care if I get a drink. I care that my stuff and I get there with
47 Atmx2000 : Actually, this is probably one of the reasons for the misfortune of US airlines. Post-dot com bubble collapse and 9/11, US companies scrutinized air
48 DocLightning : It's not just a local problem. New York is a mess. We could decrease the national delay rate greatly by slot-limiting NYC airports. But that's just a
49 Jetfuel : But you wont get predatory action like GO! did in Hawaii. Helping to send a carrier with the history of Aloha under is just pure sad. If airlines get
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