“Our sense is that almost all fares are higher now since airlines have raised fares and fuel surcharges because of the massive run-up in jet fuel prices over the last year,” said Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American. “Where fares may not have risen as much, or proportionately, the reason is simply going to be because we are competing with carriers that have not raised their fares at the same rate.“
Put another way, the big carriers are competing against efficient airlines on popular routes and sticking it to consumers on routes that don’t have competition.
For 7 years I have been hearing airlines complain about one thing after another, all while taking billions of dollars of taxpayer bailout money, and all along the way they use this as an excuse for why they cannot make money, while at the same time they have decreased their performance benchmarks and increased the degree of frustration that the average traveler experiences. The major carriers have decreased the amount of maintenance they are doing which leads to more mechanical delays and cancelations, have stripped every possible amenity from the travel experience, and are generally feature surly and pissed off employees.
Fuel prices have gone up and I don’t think reasonable people will hold it against the airlines for raising fares, but that assumes that everything else about air travel has stayed the same, which of course it has not. Also, it’s statistically evident that airlines are using the lack of competition on some routes to disproportionately raise fares in order to remain competitive on other routes and that is anti-consumer and simply not fair.
I’m done with United and the other big carriers, and I have no qualms about them simply being liquidated in order to make way for better airlines to use those gates and takeoff/landing slots. The Federal government and the FAA carry a lot of blame here as well because in their quest to promote the U.S. aviation industry they have taken the stance that maintaining the status quo is critically important and that’s why we have weak Federal oversight and no real passenger rights. Furthermore the FAA is a non-revenue generating entity and that means they can’t deal with the infrastructure issues that are very much part of why U.S. aviation sucks and pilots make do with better technology in the cockpit but little improvement everywhere else.