Peter Goodman, writing for the Daily Times in Pakistan, penned a piece entitled: Time to ask Milton Friedman?. Goodman writes: “So firm was his regard for market forces, so deep his disdain for government, that Mr. Friedman once said: If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.”
Nearly 15 years before the airline industry was deregulated, Friedman was calling for government to take its hands off of the industry. What if there was no government interference with the airline industry when the jet engine was introduced. Would today’s construct be better or worse than it is? So as we begin the process of congressional hearings on the Delta-Northwest transaction this week, I am troubled, concerned and worried for the industry.
On Tuesday night of last week, FOX Business had Robert Crandall, former Chairman and CEO of American Airlines on as a guest to discuss the Delta-Northwest deal specifically and industry issues generally. While it looked like the Bob Crandall we all looked up to as we learned the airline business and how to think about it, the words were more Lou Dobbs. A most disappointing interview with a person I once admired, but a precursor of things we will begin to hear I am afraid.
Just not much to say.
Added on April 21, 2008
When I posted last night and ended with the mention of Robert Crandall’s appearance on FOX Business, I did not know that an op ed piece would appear in today’s New York Times. Crandall pens a piece entitled Charge More, Merge Less, Fly Better - New York Times. For a guy who was admired for being a most aggressive competitor and willing to employ any tactical and strategic action to give his American Airlines an advantage – I just find his words to be, well – you be the judge. For some they will be refreshing, for others they will be anything but. At least he mentions that fares have to go up.
I will take Friedman because many of the issues that Crandall cites have needed fixing since the industry was deregulated.