Air Transport World

The children of deregulation have brought out the best and worst in their elders. (The children of deregulation, part 9)

One of them wants to attract passengers fed up with other travelers' cigarette smoking. Another appeals to gambling instincts. One is playing to a New York-Los Angeles crowd it hopes will pay $1,500 one-way per seat for a coast-to-coast trip on an all-frills Boeing 727. Another, yet to start flying, thinks it can attract corporations to an airline equivalent of a condominium. Most, however, are more mundane, settling for mere business travelers. These passengers, it is assumed, are weary of traveling with the discount-seeking masses, although they don't mind the discounts they receive when they fly frequently.

All the above are, of course, new entrants into the airline business. They have been starting up operations for the past four years, contingent only on the need to prove to the Civil Aeronautics Board that they are fit, willing and able--and on their ability to scrape up enough money. Deregulators are counting on them to keep the established carriers in line, i.e., fares lower than they might otherwise have been.

For the past few months, ATW has featured stories on several of these new companies, some just as they were starting, others after they had some operating experience. We thought it was time to assess them as a group. Diverse group

However, there is a major obstacle: There are no reliable statistics for the group as a whole. (This fact lends support to those ratifying for the Department of Transportation to do something about data collection after the CAB sunsets at the end of this year.)

The group is also very diverse. Many assessments concentrate on the new jet operators, of which there are about 20. Such efforts ignore, for example, Mid Pacific, a turboprop operator whose impact on Hawaiian Island transport has been enormous. And how do you classify Southwest Airlines, not a new airline since deregulation but a newcomer to interstate operations?

Diverse as the carriers are on the surface, they do have some things in common. First, most are looking for their special place, avoiding as much as possible the wrath and competitive response of their established rivals.

Sometimes though, what thenewcomers view as a niche others see as a threat. Often incumbent carriers have responded harshly. …

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