Legislators Worry Competition Will Decline If Airlines Merge
McCoppin, Robert, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
The father of airline deregulation warned Congress Wednesday that proposed airline mergers are threatening to ruin the advantages of increased competition.
If proposed mergers take place, said Alfred Kahn, who oversaw federal deregulation in 1978, three airlines might end up controlling the skies.
The warnings came as a politically diverse group of Congress members, from conservative Sen. Peter Fitzgerald to liberal Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, pushed federal regulators to scrutinize the proposed merger of Elk Grove Township-based United Airlines and US Airways.
Because there have been discussions of mergers between American Airlines and Northwest Airlines, as well as Delta and Continental, experts warned three companies could control 87 percent of flights.
Congressman Henry Hyde, a Wood Dale Republican, originally convened the House Judiciary Committee to investigate accusations that the airlines have divided the United States into "fortress hubs," where each airline dominates a certain market. At O'Hare International Airport, United and American airlines control more than 80 percent of the traffic.
The Suburban O'Hare Commission, represented by Bensenville Village President John Geils, has asked for a federal investigation of alleged anti-competitive practices by airlines.
"This massive problem ... will not be solved," Geils said, "unless Congress takes aggressive action on its own and demands aggressive actions from the administration. …