Strong opinions, weakly held

Lobbying the government for your favorite airline

I just got an email from Continental Airlines asking me to sign a petition urging the Department of Transportation to allow them to add service from Shanghai, China to New York. I have no idea whether it will work, but it’s an interesting use of its loyalty program. I already have miles in Continental’s frequent flier program. If I had to fly to China regularly I’d certainly sign the petition.


  1. I wonder why the government micromanages airline routes in this fashion? Is there a good reason to only allow one flight from one airline when many airlines want to offer the service?

    This reminds me of the way the State of NC regulates the number of hospital beds, MRI machines, etc.

    It would seem that it would be best to regulate less and let the open market determine success and failure.

  2. Any international airline route involves negotiations between two governments. Each government has a vested interest in maintaining the viability of its own flag air carriers. They do this by trading off access to destinations within their countries, e.g., I will allow one of your airlines to fly into Shanghai, if you allow one of ours to fly into Chicago. When a desirable route opens up, US air carriers sometimes compete to be the one allowed to fly it, hence the petitioning process…

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