Some people may wish we had not allowed the airlines to consolidate. In a narrow sense this might have meant more choice for the consumer, but it would be a choice among options that are more expensive and less convenient than what we have today. Is that what we want?
As consumers we are selfish. We want the best of both worlds; products and services that improve in quality every year even as prices go down. To achieve this formula in aviation we need an industry that works — one that can survive financially, has enough consolidation to assure efficiency, yet retains enough diversity to make sure each company is competing to offer the best value.
The US Airways-American Airlines merger is one of the final steps in the decades-long process of achieving this balance. Washington’s regulators should give it a thumbs-up as a net plus for consumers.
Roy Kienitz is former undersecretary for policy at the Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama.