NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Should U.S. Markets Be Opened To Foreign Airlines?

December 18, 2002

Under current rules, the right of a foreign airline to carry passengers from one point to another within the U.S. is usually entirely denied or severely curtailed. The restrictions are meant to protect the U.S. transportation infrastructure. But some economists and organizations say it is time to relax or eliminate such rules to promote competition.

  • Supporters promise that enhanced competition would encourage U.S. carriers to offer better service, lower prices and treat fliers with greater respect.
  • At the same time, domestic carriers point out that their industry will lose billions of dollars this year -- with United Airlines and U.S. Airways already operating under bankruptcy.
  • A country whose carrier wanted to serve a U.S. destination would have to reciprocate -- allowing our airlines to fly on its domestic routes.
  • While airline employee unions would no doubt fight any relaxation of the present restrictions, deregulation supporters point out that access to foreign air markets in Asia and the European Union countries would be a tremendous boon to struggling domestic carriers.

Source: Christopher Elliott (National Geographic Traveler), "Let Foreign Airlines Fly Inside USA," USA Today, December 18, 2002.

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