Aug 062010
 

One of the interesting claims made by airlines when they were regulated was that they couldn’t operate their
services effectively with more than about a 55% load factor, for fear of having occasional full flights and having to therefore – gasp – turn down someone who wanted to buy a ticket on that flight.

Well, that was then.  This is now.  Continental Airlines just reported its highest ever load factor in its entire history – 88.5% in July.  AirTran reported a similar result – 88.6%.

I guess the airlines came up with a solution to this problem (or no longer care).

With that as interesting introduction, I am continuing my new series on airline regulation and deregulation, and can now offer you the third part in this series.  Last week we looked at the history of airline regulation in the US, and now this week we look at why regulation ended in 1978.

I’ll wager that you didn’t know all the amazing litany of issues that I uncovered, which between them all caused an unstoppable groundswell of reform to end a clearly dysfunctional system of regulation.  Next week I’ll look at what happened subsequent to deregulation.  And so :

This Week’s Feature Column :  Seven Reasons Why the US Airline Industry Was Deregulated :  By the mid 1970s airline regulation was terminally broken; so much so that overwhelming bipartisan support shepherded the deregulation legislation quickly through Congress. Here are the seven major problems with regulation that caused its abandonment in 1978.

One such example of airline regulation and the meddling it causes, due to regulations being imposed on the airlines not for rational reasons but as the result of political interference and the acts of various pressure groups came to light last Friday with new legislation being passed that would require pilots to increase six-fold their flying hours before they could work for a commercial airline.

This legislation was introduced after a terrible pilot-error accident, and on the face of it seems sensible.  Who can object to more safety and more training and having more experienced pilots in control of our flights?

Well, yes, but there’s more to the issue than this simplistic analysis.  Read on to the article that soon follows about the reality of current pilot experience in recent fatal accidents.

In closing, one of the joys of the internet is that there is no limitation on space for an article – or an illustration.  Whereas space in a newspaper is tightly rationed, that paradigm doesn’t apply on the internet.

As an excellent example, here is an article that is a series of illustrations, depicting the slightly strange world of an overnight flight from the US to Europe.

I’ll be entering this strange world myself next week.  On Thursday evening I’m flying down to Auckland on Qantas.  My daughter and I are going to NZ for her first time to do such things as meeting assorted relations, experiencing the strange smells in Rotorua, the glowworms in Waitomo, seeing how honey is made in Havelock North, and generously sampling NZ ‘haute cuisine’ – meat pies, fish and chips in newspaper, assorted confectionary items unique to New Zealand, ‘Lemon and Paeroa’ soft drink, and for the slightly more adult of the two of us, generous splashes of NZ beer and wine.  Yum!

So the timing for next week’s newsletter will be nonstandard.  I’ll try to get some stuff pushed out on Thursday during the four hour layover in Los Angeles.

Until sometime approximating Friday next week, please enjoy safe travels

David.

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