Biden's Administration is pro-union and is in the mood to trust bust like Teddy Roosevelt. Younger people may not know this but until the 1980's or so, mergers and JV just didn't happen like they do now. The DOJ turned most down. Look at the consolidation in the airline, tech and especially the banking industry. Google, Amazon, Bank of America. Back in the day, there were very very few companies that were "too big to fail". Who won? Wall Street and the Officers of those companies with stock options (see airline CEO's). Who lost - the employees and cities who had facilities "right-sized".
It's about time.
I partially agree, but not fully. Pre-deregulation, airline mergers in the U.S. tended to happen when one of the airlines was on the verge of failure (i.e., Capital into United; Mohawk into Allegheny, Northeast into Delta, etc.) or if there was a situation where one's regulated route network was not going to allow it to succeed long term (Bonanza, Pacific and West Coast joining to become Air West - later Hughes Airwest). After deregulation, things changed and the government was much less willing to permit combinations - look at Braniff trying to sell its South American operation to Pan Am in 1982, for example). The idea behind deregulation was that the airlines should be able to run their own operations, free and clear of government interference, provided they operated safely. That's why the CAB went away, not the FAA.
Of what were 11 "trunk" airlines pre deregulation in the U.S., this is what happened:
1972 - Northeast merged with Delta ( yes, pre-dereg, but there was an attempt to merge Northeast and Northwest which didn't work out).
1980? Pan Am and National - bad timing and too expensive, Pan Am did not survive its 1991 bankruptcy (yes there were other reasons too, including Lockerbie, but. . . .)
1982 - Braniff failed. three iterations, 3 bankruptcies
1983 - Continental's first bankruptcy
1985 - TWA bought Ozark - TWA later filed bankruptcy 3 times, the last, in 2001 resulted in its assets being acquired by American.
1987 - Western merged into Delta, also Allegheny - now US Air - bought Piedmont and PSA
And don't forget America West (2 bankruptcies itself) acquiring the remnants of US Air out of that carrier's second bankruptcy
In the 2000's, you have every one of the legacies filing bankruptcy - EVERY one. And, please understand, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy actually usually totally wipes out the shareholders of these publicly held companies. They are not something you dive into willy nilly.
As a result of U.S. deregulation, we have an industry in the U.S. which is quite different (and, arguably less stable) than before. Yes, fares, adjusted for inflation, may appear lower, but I think that's only partially true, because ( a) pre-deregulation, fares were always refundable, (b) you had interlining agreements, (c) fares included such things as seat selection and baggage, as well as other amenities many people buy today. If you look at, say, an ULLC carrier on a given route, you may well find that when you add up the amenities most people want, like assigned seating, a cup of coffee, one suitcase, etc., they are really not much cheaper, if at all, than the legacies. Largely because the government continues to regulate in some ways.
I agree with you that many people have been hurt by the effects of deregulation. All of the U.S. carriers, except Delta, are highly unionized; some (i.e., Southwest), while unionized, have excellent employee relations and have been successful. But others, not so much. And I'm not talking about Frank Lorenzo and his labor relations with first Texas International, then Continental and Eastern.