Thursday, February 13, 2014

If we could only Walmart the skies...

What would you think of an airline carrier that took full advantage of all available global resources to deliver its customers the most competitive fares available to Europe?

I think that if you're thinking about traveling to Europe, you'd think highly of such an airline. You'd save several hundred dollars that you might use to enhance your international experience, maybe upgrade your seat, or you might even use your savings to spring for a ticket for Grandpa Sven who would love to visit the homeland one last time.

(To keep this brief, I'll dispense with my usual exposé of all the wonderful economic potentialities [the local vendors, the exporters, the property owners, etc., who might reap benefits from your reaping] that result when one avails oneself of the best value the world has to offer.)

Well, if you're indeed thinking about Europe, I have good news. Here's the New York Times on what Norwegian Air is up to: (HT Darren Thomas)
Norwegian is moving its long-haul operations from Norway to Ireland, basing some of its pilots and crew in Bangkok, hiring flight attendants in the United States, and flying the most advanced jetliner in service — the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian’s ebullient chief executive, is confident that his unconventional approach will allow the airline to offer fares 50 percent cheaper than the competition’s.

Ah, globalization! The taking advantage of what the world has to offer in order to deliver the best possible value.

Of course if you happen to be Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, an opponent of Norwegian’s plans, you'll have none of it. Here's more from the Times article:
“They want to exploit legal and regulatory loopholes to give them an unfair economic advantage over U.S. airlines that operate in a global marketplace.”

The pilots union said Norwegian was trying to “cheat” the agreement, first struck between the United States and Europe in 2007 and expanded in 2010, which gave easier access to major airports like Kennedy and allowed airlines to operate more freely across the Atlantic. Critics said Norwegian was pursuing a “flag of convenience” strategy, and compared it to the exodus of the domestic cargo ship industry to countries with weaker regulatory oversight like Liberia. Another union called it “the Walmarting” of the airline industry.

"The Walmarting of the airline industry"? My, if the airline industry could only be Walmarted! If it could indeed provide low and middle-income Americans access to a good that was previously out of reach and increase employment opportunities in the industry many times over... I'm literally getting goosebumps as I type!!

Of course we all understand where the U.S. airlines and the unions are coming from. But we must never lose sight of the fact that any protection from competition that government would provide a company, industry or union comes at the expense of the consumer. I say we side with the consumer...

1 comment:

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