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A lack of competition explains the flaws in American aviation

  • Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:48

DECADES ago travelling by air in America was a glamorous affair. Today it signals delays, discomfort, extra charges and the threat of violence. A video of a passenger being forcibly dragged from a United Airlines flight on April 9th, after too few people volunteered to give up their seats, has sparked an outpouring of complaints about flying in America. Passengers are right to moan. America’s airlines really do compare badly with foreign ones. European carriers are the best point of reference.

Air fares are higher per seat mile in America than in Europe. When costs fall, consumers in America fail to enjoy the benefits. The global price of jet fuel—one of the biggest costs for airlines—has fallen by half since 2014. That triggered a fare war between European carriers, but in America ticket prices have hardly budged. Airlines in North America posted a profit of $ 22.40 per passenger last year; in Europe the figure was $ 7.84.

Standards of service are also worse. Only one operator based in America can be found in the world’s 30 best carriers, as rated by Skytrax, an aviation website, compared with nine from Europe. When Ryanair, currently...Continue reading Leaders

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