As I peruse the blogs and message boards, I frequently read words like “monopoly” and “oligopoly” in reference to airlines. And those are the nice things. I did pretty well in college Econ, but I’ll stay away from preaching on the economic status of airlines. One thing I won’t stay away from is this – a lot of us had gotten so accustomed to airlines as quasi-public utilities without the quasi-public rate setting that we thought what was happening around us was normal.
A lot of people that I have a tremendous amount of respect for are having a difficult time transitioning along with airline companies. I actually had a friend of mine say to me that we need a bad recession, oil shock or some other calamity to put the airlines in their place. Really? It would be easy to say that I’ve consumed the airlines’ “kool aid” or am otherwise biased. Perhaps I am biased, but the only thing I think I’m biased about is that no company, be it an airline or a donut shop, owes me their profitability. They owe me a product that I decide to give them money for, and that’s it. If they’re not offering something I desire, I am free to walk away.
Most airlines are being managed like normal businesses, and that is a characteristic that is far past overdue. Sooner or later, something will test the new found discipline of airline managers, and how they react will be telling. Just as telling will be how those of us that travel react if this new “paradigm” proves to be the real thing.
-MJ, October 5, 2014