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Report: Breakdown of America’s Airline Service is Bad for Business

Published:   March 12, 2012

TERMINAL SICKNESS: How a 30-Year-Old Policy of Deregulation is Killing America’s Airline System – and Taking Cincinnati, Memphis and St. Louis with It.

America’s airline service is collapsing fast, and businesses across Heartland America are taking the hit. A new article by New America’s Phil Longman and Lina Khan, available today in the March issue of The Washington Monthly, explains what’s happening and why.

As the few remaining airlines in America slash routes to pay off debt, cities like Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Memphis, and Minneapolis are being cut off from the rest of America and the world. Some cities have lost more than half their air service in a few short years – and have found they are all but powerless to alter the decisions of these private corporations.

The effects are real and widespread. Leisure travelers face fewer choices and higher fares. But it is American businesses – which demands frequent and efficient service – that have been especially hard hit. As Longman and Khan report, Chiquita recently moved from Cincinnati to Charlotte precisely because it has become so difficult to fly executives in and out of Ohio.

Most surprising is the culprit. For years experts have blamed higher fuel prices. But Longman and Khan show the problem stems from the so-called “deregulation” of the industry more than 30 years ago. The time has come to recognize that this policy– first promoted in the 1970s by Ralph Nader, Ted Kennedy, and Stephen Breyer – has failed.

Longman and Khan are part of New America's Markets, Enterprise, and Resiliency Program, which promotes smarter use of business corporations and markets. Their article can be read in its entirely here.

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