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Flying Managed-Economy to London

Flying Managed-Economy to London

2 Mins
April 10, 2013

If you think antitrust is about fair competition, take a look at this : Delta and Virgin Atlantic are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation for a free pass to coordinate their U.S.-U.K. flight schedules. It seems such coordination might normally violate antitrust law, but the DOT can waive antitrust law to help certain companies.

Delta president Ed Bastian argues that the waiver “would allow travelers to take full advantage of all the aspects of the Delta-Virgin joint venture and enjoy the benefits of increased competition, particularly on flights to and from London Heathrow Airport.”

What does that have to do with fairness to other airlines? Nothing. If there’s some reason American Airlines and British Airways have a right not to have Delta and Virgin team up against them (and there isn’t), what travelers get out of the deal is irrelevant. When your competitor has a right, service to the customer doesn’t justify violating it. Delta can’t steal American’s planes in order to provide better service.

But if antitrust is just a way the government manages the economy to benefit customers, then it does make sense that the government can override the normal rules when an exception would benefit customers more than the normal rule does. That, of course, leaves the key question: Should the government manage the economy, or should it be limited to upholding rights?

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