Rant and Rave

The Deregulation of Airline Deregulation

by Raymond Magliozzi


Just what the hell have we accomplished by airline deregulation? Here are the benefits and the costs:

The Benefits:

  1. Competition has driven prices down. Now, every average Joe can go anywhere he wants to go.
  2. He can go almost as often as he wants to.

That's it for the benefits. At what cost have we achieved these benefits?

The Costs:

  1. Vastly increased traffic in the air; there are hundreds more flights per day than there were before deregulation. This has led to:

    A) Horrendous automobile traffic at airports.

    B) Delays at check-in, requiring passengers to arrive hours before departure.

    C) Terribly crowded planes--due not only to the increased number of passengers, but also to reconfiguration of airplane interiors to maximize capacity.

  2. Safety has been compromised--despite what the airlines would have us believe. Think about these things:

    A) New airlines have been unable to obtain truly qualified pilots and crews.

    B) How can maintenance be as diligent as it was before deregulation?

    C) Landings and takeoffs are more dangerous simply by virtue of the sheer numbers of them. In addition, landings and takeoffs occur when they shouldn't. Too many people are involved to delay or cancel a takeoff. Too many people--and therefore too many dollars--are involved in rerouting to safer airports in foul weather.

We have been fooled into believing that the Federal Aviation Administration has been our "watchdog." But it has not. Firstly, we must remember that the FAA has a two-pronged mission:

1. To promote airline travel.
2. To oversee and enforce safety.

These two aspects of the mission are enemies. To promote air travel AND at the same time regulate safety requires the wisdom of Solomon and the ethics of Jesus Christ--and the bureaucrats have neither. Our safety is in the hands of bureaucrats and businessmen; the incompetence of the former and the greed and sleaziness of the latter are legend.

It is time to end deregulation. Travel has been always a luxury of the upper class, and so it should be. If airfares doubled tomorrow, a large percentage of flights would be canceled. Mr. Average Joe would stay home. We would travel less--and enjoy it more. The airlines would have the time to maintain the planes. Pilots would be competent. Marginal weather conditions would prompt cancellations and delays. And some of us would live longer.

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