Elizabeth Warren Wants To Stop Airline Mergers, Despite Evidence That They Lower Airfares
In a letter sent Monday evening, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Alex Padilla (D–Calif.) demanded that the Department of Transportation levy heavy penalties on airlines for canceling flights. According to CNN, the letter instructs the department to “aggressively” penalize airlines that cancel flights for reasons unrelated to severe weather.
The letter proposes punishing airlines with a “hefty” fine for canceled flights, arguing that the department should act as a “consumer protection watchdog,” which is legally able to fine airlines up to $37,377 per violation of federal law. According to Reuters, the senators wrote that the department should “impose fines designed to change airlines’ calculus about harming consumers to pad their own profits.”
This proposal comes just over a month after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) unveiled a similar proposal in response to airline flight cancellations. As Reason‘s Liz Wolfe wrote at the time, under Sanders’ plan, the U.S. government would fine “$55,000 per passenger for each flight the airline must cancel due to staffing shortages” in addition to a litany of other fines for flight delays. “For flights delayed by merely one hour, Sanders wants the federal government to force airlines to give passengers refunds,” added Wolfe.
However, according to CNN, Warren and Padilla’s proposal contains a provision that Sanders did not include in his airline fine scheme—a demand that the Department of Transportation prevent airline consolidation. The pair frame airline consolidation as a main source of “consistent” price increases for customers.
The move is unsurprising considering Warren’s consistent opposition to corporate mergers. In March, Warren introduced legislation that, if passed, would ban mergers worth more than $5 billion. Warren argued in a press release that we need to “restore our country’s anti-monopoly tradition by banning the biggest, most anticompetitive mergers and giving the DOJ and the FTC stronger tools to enforce our antitrust laws and restore real competition in our markets.”
Warren is wrongly blaming flight cancellations and price hikes on airline mergers, which are frequently good for consumers.
“Data on overall traffic trends supports the notion that th
Article from Reason.com