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Airline Regulation: Is Kuttner Off Course?


Readers Report

AIRLINE REGULATION: IS KUTTNER OFF COURSE?

Robert Kuttner's column "Flying in the face of reason: Why the skies need reregulating" (Economic Viewpoint, May 3) was basically a rehash of the stale philosophy that Kuttner has been espousing. What Kuttner fails to recognize, however, is that deregulation has brought enormous benefits to the traveling public. In the 14 years since the airlines were deregulated, passenger traffic has grown more than 70%, and cargo traffic has nearly doubled. Industry revenue has nearly tripled, from $27 billion in 1979 to nearly $77 billion in 1992. Employment has grown from 340,000 in 1979 to more than 530,000 today. And despite the current state of the airlines, their growth has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in aircraft manufacturing, airport development, aviation suppliers, and travel and tourism.

What Kuttner advocates by calling for reregulation is a fare increase for most travelers so that he will not have to pay as much when he wants to fly during peak travel times. The vast majority of Americans would be the losers, because communities would lose service, airports would be underutilized, jobs would be lost, and airfares would go up.

James E. Landry

President

Air Transport Assn.

Washington

Robert Kuttner expresses irritation because "all airlines" charge him a $662.50 [round-trip] coach fare between Boston and Washington, with big reductions only if he stays over Saturday night. Evidently, Kuttner's time is so valuable that he can't bother to shop around.

He could fly round-trip with no restrictions between Boston and Washington on Continental Airlines Inc. or Delta Air Lines Inc. and pay only $400.50. A roomette on Amtrak's Night Owl would bring him to the central city in relaxed comfort in the morning and save $400. He will consider Amtrak, however, only if he saves $600. But if he doesn't vote with his dollars, how can he justify his complaint?

Joel B. Dirlam

Kingston, R.I.


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