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NYT: A Struggle For New US Airlines  
User currently offlineBD338 From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 740 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 9308 times:

An interesting little read in the NYT today

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/business/06access.html?_r=1&hp

Maybe nothing startlingly new but an insight into why it is so difficult for airlines to start/succeed in the US. Personally, we need new entrants into the market, some will fail for sure but the occasional one that survives adds innovation (as well as competition) as consumers we should be happy at that.

..article may require a free registration.

46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3602 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 9240 times:

Quoting BD338 (Thread starter):
Maybe nothing startlingly new but an insight into why it is so difficult for airlines to start/succeed in the US. Personally, we need new entrants into the market, some will fail for sure but the occasional one that survives adds innovation (as well as competition) as consumers we should be happy at that.

While I cannot read the article (as I don't want to register with the NYT), I really don't think we need more new entrants into the market. The current airlines in the market cannot yet make a reasonable return for their investors due to too much capacity. Additional entrants into the market will only exacerbate the overcapacity situation and cause additional investors to lose money.

Airfares are still at historically cheap prices. Anyone planning to start or invest in a new airline in the USA at this point is a fool who deserves to go broke.


User currently offlineFL787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 1551 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 9188 times:

The article lost some of its credibility with me when it called WN an "upstart" carrier.


717,72S,732/3/4/5/G/8/9,744,752/3,763/4,772/3,D9S/5,M8/90,D10,319/20/21,332/3,388,CR2/7/9,EM2,ER4,E70/75/90,SF3,AR8
User currently offlineERJ170 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 6791 posts, RR: 17
Reply 3, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 9189 times:

Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 1):
Additional entrants into the market will only exacerbate the overcapacity situation and cause additional investors to lose money.

But isn't that overcapacity only in certain markets? And I know there will be the ones that say that the markets in question make the most money with the most people, but I personally believe that some of hte most profitable markets are those where there is undercapacity and no competition.

I mean, NYC-Top 50 markets is probably considered oversaturated.. but something like JAX-SFO is not. Is there a huge market there? Probably not. Is there a market there? certainly.

How to make it profitable? It's called the right aircraft, the right times, and the right price. Is $500 rt too much? Well, yeah.. is $350 too much? Not really? How to make up the rest? Well, look at how other places make up the money? Creativity without being obnoxious. Example.. At each airport, have an airline sundries store and sell merchandise. Be ingenitive... Sell meals pre-flight.

just saying..



Aiming High and going far..
User currently offlineEagleboy From Niue, joined Dec 2009, 1917 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 8903 times:
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Quoting FL787 (Reply 2):
The article lost some of its credibility with me when it called WN an "upstart" carrier.

Is this the quote you mean
".....Industry experts offer a long list of challenges faced by start-up carriers, as well as discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue......"

I do agree that the major airlines have a certain amount of inertia/influence that allows them to maintian their position in spite of the emergence of newer more efficient carriers. People have a perception of quality for money and brand loyalty. I can remember my mother many years ago used to fly DUB-LHR on the same airline everytime. It was habit to her,no questions of searching for a better fare online in those days.


User currently offline9252fly From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 8871 times:

Quoting ERJ170 (Reply 3):
I mean, NYC-Top 50 markets is probably considered oversaturated.. but something like JAX-SFO is not. Is there a huge market there? Probably not. Is there a market there? certainly.

It's of my opinion,that generally any city pair will be served if it's potentially profitable. The reason for markets typically not having service as mentioned above is likely the result of an airline's research indicating a route is unsustainable. O&D must be enough to carry the day,or a combination including connections beyond whic provide a benefit to the airline's network. Network planners at various airlines are constantly looking at new market opportunities based on a wealth of information we could only dream of,some of it over many decades. Having said that,even with all the knowledge,they still launch the occasional route that's a bust;a good topic for another thread.

[Edited 2010-07-05 19:20:01]

User currently offlinefrmrCapCadet From United States of America, joined May 2008, 1744 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 8674 times:

Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 1):
Airfares are still at historically cheap prices. Anyone planning to start or invest in a new airline in the USA at this point is a fool who deserves to go broke.

Interesting that the LCCs were more likely to make a profit than the legacies. Why shouldn't the public airports all be well served by LCCs, new ones in necessary? Airports were built to serve the public, not specific airlines.



Buffet: the airline business...has eaten up capital...like..no other (business)
User currently offlineUALWN From Andorra, joined Jun 2009, 2976 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 8226 times:

Quoting FL787 (Reply 2):
The article lost some of its credibility with me when it called WN an "upstart" carrier.

It did not. The sentence reads "Industry experts offer a long list of challenges faced by start-up carriers, as well as discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue." Southwest is defined as a "discount airline", not as a "start-up carrier". I found the article well researched and written, but it says nothing new really.



AT7/111/146/Avro/CRJ/CR9/EMB/ERJ/E75/F50/100/L15/DC9/D10/M8X/717/727/737/747/757/767/777/AB6/310/319/320/321/330/340/380
User currently offlinebjorn14 From Norway, joined Feb 2010, 3695 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 8105 times:

Quoting 9252fly (Reply 5):
O&D must be enough to carry the day

I think O&D is overrated especially into hubs. On p2p routes it is absolutely important. I feel the longer you keep a pax on your airplanes the better.



"I want to know the voice of God the rest is just details" --A. Einstein
User currently offlineBurkhard From Germany, joined Nov 2006, 4409 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 7999 times:

Fair citation:
"They are protected by a structure that limits the ability of new entrants to get into markets and to expand,” Mr. Borenstein said, citing frequent flier programs — and the fact that miles earned for business travel are an untaxed employee benefit — as an example of a policy favoring big carriers.

“Frequent flier plans are massively popular,” he said. “And people don’t recognize that they’re reducing competition.”

An interesting part: As discussion would go in Europe, untaxed frequent flier plans would be called subvention of the legacy carriers - that is why we have to tax them even if we never would use them.


User currently offlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3602 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 7806 times:

Quoting 9252fly (Reply 5):
It's of my opinion,that generally any city pair will be served if it's potentially profitable. The reason for markets typically not having service as mentioned above is likely the result of an airline's research indicating a route is unsustainable. O&D must be enough to carry the day,or a combination including connections beyond whic provide a benefit to the airline's network. Network planners at various airlines are constantly looking at new market opportunities based on a wealth of information we could only dream of,some of it over many decades. Having said that,even with all the knowledge,they still launch the occasional route that's a bust;a good topic for another thread.

  

Very well stated.

Quoting frmrCapCadet (Reply 6):
Interesting that the LCCs were more likely to make a profit than the legacies. Why shouldn't the public airports all be well served by LCCs, new ones in necessary? Airports were built to serve the public, not specific airlines.

I don't understand your comments about public airports WRT new airlines. Airports usually have very little to do with forming a new airline.

Since market deregulation, the aviation market in the USA fragmented into two somewhat distinct sub-markets, LCCs and Legacies. These are substitutable goods domestically. The LCC market expanded rapidly, taking marketshare from the legacies owing to a much lower cost base attributable to lower labor costs, lower pensiion and benefit costs, newer equipment, back-end loaded leases..... The legacies were forced to retrench and merge during this period while the LCCs largely flourished. This was why the market was saddled with so much over capacity for the last decade.

The LCC and Legacy markets have just about come into equilibrium (still maybe one or two too many legacy carriers). The legacies are now able to eke out a profit (maybe) and some of the LCCs are making money, some losing money. LCCs are no longer more likely to show profits than the legacies, and a number of them have gone bust. (Flyi, go!, Midwest....) Even WN has shown chinks in their armor.

The low fares of the last decade were not sustainable.


User currently offlinevin2basketball From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 320 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 7524 times:

Of Course we do have California Pacific Airlines

User currently offlinepylon101 From Russia, joined Feb 2008, 1609 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 7135 times:

Very interesting reading.
Opened without any registration, by the way.
It raises issues realated to the state of health of US aviation industry.
This topic is not discussed here on a.net due to sensitivity of the subject for many members.


User currently offlineFL787 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 1551 posts, RR: 12
Reply 13, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 6826 times:

Quoting UALWN (Reply 7):
It did not. The sentence reads "Industry experts offer a long list of challenges faced by start-up carriers, as well as discount airlines like Southwest and JetBlue." Southwest is defined as a "discount airline", not as a "start-up carrier". I found the article well researched and written, but it says nothing new really.

Looks like they edited the article on me. I promise it said upstart when I first read it. I agree that it doesn't really say anything new.



717,72S,732/3/4/5/G/8/9,744,752/3,763/4,772/3,D9S/5,M8/90,D10,319/20/21,332/3,388,CR2/7/9,EM2,ER4,E70/75/90,SF3,AR8
User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1642 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 6751 times:

Quoting bjorn14 (Reply 8):
I think O&D is overrated especially into hubs. On p2p routes it is absolutely important. I feel the longer you keep a pax on your airplanes the better.

I would tend to agree -- for instance, Berkshire Hathaway employees travelling internationally have to connect since they are based in Omaha, but I doubt anyone would complain about getting the biz-class fare for a senior exec routing via ORD or JFK. As these travellers connect in places like ATL, JFK, ORD, and the like, there are just so many connecting pax that I'd have to believe O&D becomes less relevant as a percentage of overall traffic.


User currently offlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4317 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5675 times:

The problem I have with this article isn't that I disagree with it, but it basically makes the point that because the system is in place to protect the established carriers, once a carrier becomes established there is really no incentive for them to continue to work hard to stay there. This is why the public has become fed up with the airlines. They believe that they are established and will become too big to fail. And when new carriers come in, the argument is always, "There are too many seats out there".

Not that I want to see a glut of airlines in the future, but there are some things I think could happen right away that would help with the problem

1. All airport leases between airlines and airports need to be terminated immediately, and all terminals need to replaced with CUTE terminals. This would ensure that airlines don't hog gate space, and if an airline wants to start a new route, or city, this would ensure that they could do so without problems.

2. Airlines need to stop taking losses for "turf protection". If you can't operate a city pair profitably for 8 flights, don't do it. Keep it at a level where you can be profitable. And if other airlines get some pax willing to pay less, big deal. They are the ones losing money, not you.

3. The airline operating the flight has to be the one marketing and branding it. For example, if you are on an Air Wisconsin flight from PHL-BGR for USAirways, the plane should be painted in ZW colors, the monitors need to show that flight as an Air Wisconsin flight, and all airport signage needs to indicate this as such. This is the biggest bait and switch scheme in the airline industry today, and this needs to end. I was on an ExpressJet flight last week operating for United and not one announcement, nor the safety card, or anything except for very very fine print on the boarding card. indicated that United didn't operate this flight. Talk about misleading. To their credit, SkyWest, Air Wisconsin, and to a smaller extent republic, actually try to make their brand known to people. Others just seem to hide it.

I have other ideas, but I am tired and can't think straight at the moment. I will have more later.


User currently offline413X3 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 1983 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5570 times:

Not only are low ticket prices making it hard for start-ups, and even existing airlines, but also the rising costs of new airplanes and even used make it very difficult to make any real money on most routes. With airlines doing every type of flying, trying to find one area that is untapped is not very easy. Maybe governments need to subsidize pricing of new airframes so more competition can come into the market.

User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8774 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5555 times:

Quoting apodino (Reply 15):
2. Airlines need to stop taking losses for "turf protection". If you can't operate a city pair profitably for 8 flights, don't do it. Keep it at a level where you can be profitable. And if other airlines get some pax willing to pay less, big deal. They are the ones losing money, not you.

There should be no owning of slots (and certainly not terminals). And, no perimeter rules. This would make the country pretty darn open to new and old carriers alike. Airlines are already pretty open (compared to, say, the railroad industry). But, incumbents do get significant shelter from grandfathered assets and privileges. Is this appropriate, probably not.


User currently offline9252fly From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5157 times:

Quoting Flighty (Reply 17):
There should be no owning of slots

Kind of difficult to operate flight XX123 from ABC to XYZ on any kind of regular schedule otherwise. Imagine the scheduling nightmare and ensuing chaos!


User currently offlinedartland From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 646 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5031 times:
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I bet this article was stimulated by the PR office at a small airline.

The facts don't support anything in this article. Small and new carriers are performing quite well today, and in 2009 performed better than the network carriers. How do you account for that if they're at such a disadvantage?

In every industry worldwide, there is a benefit to being the big, entrenched players. That's not unfair advantage, it's the incentives of capitalism. In fact, in most industries the sustainable advantage of entrenched players is a cost advantage, since at scale, it is usually cheaper to do whatever you do as compared to a start-up. This is in addition to the market benefits of brand, marketing, scope, etc.

For airlines, the cost benefit is reversed. Start-ups have a cost benefit because their labor (the largest cost bucket ex-fuel) is much less.

So with airlines, start-up carriers actually have a bigger advantage than they do in most other industries.


The government issue is a bit bogus. Foreign ownership? Foreign carriers flying in the US? That is a constraint on all airlines. Taxing frequent flier benefits is the same. Last I checked, Virgin America and JetBlue also have frequent flier programs.

The one area of true unfair disadvtange is the slots at ORD, EWR, LGA, and DCA. So yes -- at 4 airports (out of how many in the US?), start-up carriers are at a major disadvantage. And yes, the government should do something about it (they tried with the US/DL slot swap, but that failed).


But otherwise, the whole premise of this article is BS. Start-ups fail in general because it's hard! To say that start-ups in the aviation industry are unusually or unfairly disadvantaged is bogus.

Now of course the predatory pricing practices of years past can definitely be a problem, but in that case, the government is there to protect start-up carriers. I haven't heard of any such allegations hurting the likes of JetBlue or Virgin America (recently it's been the other way around -- start-ups lower fares and network carriers must match!).


User currently offlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2103 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4901 times:

Quoting ERJ170 (Reply 3):
I mean, NYC-Top 50 markets is probably considered oversaturated.. but something like JAX-SFO is not. Is there a huge market there? Probably not. Is there a market there? certainly.

JAX-SFO is served through hubs with several different routings. The question really is if JAX-SFO would work profitably as a non-stop. The assumption is that it probably does not, as an airline would have started that route. There is a market and it is being served. The non-stop market for JAX-SFO is not there or at least not strong enough.

Point to Point only works if there is enough O&D and enough of a non-stop premium. WN has a specific market size that is necessary before it will enter that market. WN serves some smaller cities that were destinations from its early days but all new destinations need a minimum size. B6 serves some small destinations in upstate New York as part of its deal to get access to JFK but most of its other destinations are fairly large. VX seems to mostly fly to UA or CO hub destinations (if you lump EWR and JFK into the same destination), which is why they are decrying the merger.

Smaller cities will struggle to get LCC service and many mid-sized cities will lack extensive non-stops. Even if new airlines started up they would generally not serve small cities or long thin routes. Big cities will have cheap fares between them, driven down by LCCs. With exceptions for vacation destinations and certain geographical factors, the smaller the population, the more passengers will have to pay. Legacies are in the odd position of being most profitable in small towns and internationally.

Quoting Flighty (Reply 17):
There should be no owning of slots (and certainly not terminals).

One of the problems with not allowing airlines to own terminals is that the airport would then have to be responsible for the construction, maintenance and updating of terminals. Many hub terminals could never have been built if not at least partially financed by the airline occupant, such as UA's ORD Terminal 1 and AA's JFK terminal.

Smaller airports could put themselves in a death spiral by building terminals and then getting stuck with them when an airline withdraws from the airport. The airport would then have to raise fees to cover the cost of the terminals which would make the airport unappealing to new entrants and pressure the remaining airlines to leave as well.


User currently offlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4317 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4753 times:

Quoting AADC10 (Reply 20):
Smaller airports could put themselves in a death spiral by building terminals and then getting stuck with them when an airline withdraws from the airport. The airport would then have to raise fees to cover the cost of the terminals which would make the airport unappealing to new entrants and pressure the remaining airlines to leave as well.

Which is what happened in PIT, but that being said, LAS, IND, DTW, AUS, MCO and MIA are recent examples of where the airports have built terminals and are doing quite well.

And that also being said, why should airlines pay for terminals and then end up tied to them for years down the road when the economics of a market change and then the airline can't make it work as well? Examples of what I am talking about are Terminal A in BOS, bankrolled largely by DL and is still underutilized, as well as Terminal C in CVG, and non terminal wise, think of the UA MX hangar in IND.


And just so you are aware, if LAS hadn't gone CUTE, they would have had to build more gates sooner, but this allowed them to maximize the use of all their gates.


User currently offline1GR8AIRLINE From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4577 times:

Quoting dartland (Reply 19):
But otherwise, the whole premise of this article is BS. Start-ups fail in general because it's hard! To say that start-ups in the aviation industry are unusually or unfairly disadvantaged is bogus.

I would have to agree. I think the majority of start-ups fail because someone decides to follow their dream of starting an airline without developing a strong business plan and raising sufficient capital (I think JetBlue raised ~$150M before a passenger ever boarded one of their planes). They quickly learn that running an airline costs significantly more than their nonexistent market power allows them to charge and disappear, but not before depressing yields in the markets they tried to serve (sometimes for long after they've exited the routes).


User currently offlinedfambro From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 346 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4467 times:

Quoting dartland (Reply 19):
Taxing frequent flier benefits is the same. Last I checked, Virgin America and JetBlue also have frequent flier programs.

FF miles on a larger network are more valuable to the consumer than on a small network. My personal choices even reflect this - I would switch my BOS-SFO and BOS-LAX flying from UA to VX, except that's a big chunk of the miles I use to gain 1K on UA, and I need that status for SWUs for my asia trips. So, VX loses ~10 transcon segments to UA because the UA FF program is more valuable to me. I only fly VX for red-eyes, since the F product is SO much better.


User currently offline9252fly From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4244 times:

Quoting dfambro (Reply 23):
I only fly VX for red-eyes, since the F product is SO much better.

That has me thinking about automatic complimentary upgrades on UA. Has UA diluted the value of their first class cabins and in turn made it more difficult to sell those seats at a premium. I imagine UA is not the only carrier that's doing it. AC does not as an example give away a business class seat unless a frequent flyer uses one of their alloted upgrade certificates against an eligible fare type. You can sometimes get lucky and get a complimentary upgrade if the economy cabin has too many passengers for the flight. Even then,it's also prioritized by membership status.


25 BD338 : ...which is a perfect illustration of one of the points raised in the article. FF plans distort the market. In this case you choose UA to gain variou
26 Cubsrule : Interesting that you'd bring up DTW and MIA. There - in both cases - the airport put up the CUTE (or CUTE-type) terminal, while the hubbing carrier a
27 Mir : No aircraft exists that can do that route properly, because even a 73G is likely going to be too much capacity. And anything smaller won't have the r
28 Post contains images MaverickM11 : "In the airline industry, the fittest do not always survive. But that has not stopped start-up carriers like Virgin America from trying. " VX is not "
29 silentbob : When you buy a ticket on the US Airways site it shows who operates the flight, ZW has their name on the side next to the door and they have branded s
30 cslusarc : Actually, I think that UA hasn't diluted the value of their first class cabin by any significant margin, but VX offers a first class cabin that is mi
31 9252fly : How does VX upgrade it's regular frequent fliers? I can't imagine they give it away.
32 MaverickM11 : I don't know how anyone in their right mind would think that government favors big carriers, particularly this administration. They want labor to be
33 SEPilot : Warren Buffett claims to have a support group for whenever he feels like investing in an airline that they will talk him out of it. And remember the o
34 seabosdca : Really? If you're afraid they'll send spam (which they don't, at least to me), then just give a one-time-use email address and be done with it.
35 SEPilot : I don't even want to do that; and as I said before, the premise is contradicted by the evidence. How many new businesses the size of JetBlue in other
36 DLPMMM : Off topic but: I really don't want the NYT tracking my internet usage with their cookies, and it is not worth the time and effort to set up a one-tim
37 mayor : After reading those last few posts, neither can I.....talk about off topic!! Hardly. I realize at first, passengers were confused as to who they were
38 ericaasen : Okay, I'm being a little dense here, but what does CUTE stand for? I gather they're not gates with Hello Kitty and Hannah Montana decorating themes. A
39 aviators99 : Nope, they charge good money for it, and people pay. There is a standby upgrade feature: 6 hours or less prior to departure you can buy up from betwe
40 N801NW : Common Use Terminal Equipment. It allows multiple airlines to use the same gates to dispatch flights. IIRC, it allows the airlines to use their own s
41 seabosdca : My bad. I just couldn't quite believe the level of paranoia. (Disabling cookies for one or all sites is easy in any modern browser, by the way, and i
42 mayor : To me, the complaints that "start ups" have about their disadantages vs the legacies would be kind of like someone starting a new pro football team, k
43 bjorn14 : When Norwegian was starting up they convinced the government that mainly SK's FF program was anti-competitive and Norway is now the only country in th
44 Post contains images MaverickM11 : It's one of the more absurd things I've read in a while. Wow, that's crazy. Why stop there? SK's domestic and international networks are anticompetit
45 UALWN : I agree. It's like somebody who would decide to start a new car-making company now. The barriers of entry are huge. Yes, so? Invest your money elsewh
46 dartland : This is true, but it isn't a government imposed advantaged based on some tax law. It is a natural business advantage of having a larger network. Note
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