April 10, 2017
Lina Khan and Phil Longman's work on concentration in airlines was quoted by Eric Levitz in a New York article covering United Airlines' controversial and violent removal of a passenger from an overbooked plane.
When the Carter administration began deregulating the airlines in the late ’70s, it did so in the name of fostering price competition. Sure, relinquishing public control might jeopardize smaller, rural cities’ access to convenient air travel, but free-market competition would also make flying more affordable for the vast majority of Americans.
But thanks in no small part to lax antitrust enforcement by President Reagan and his successors, deregulation ultimately turned a public quasi-monopoly into a private one. Or, as Phillip Longman and Lina Khan put it in a 2012 essay for Washington Monthly, Carter’s reforms shifted “control of the airline industry from experts answerable to the public to corporate boardrooms and Wall Street.”