Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Monday, May 5, 2008

Airline Code-Share Alliances and Their Competitive Effects

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Airline mergers and alliances are at the forefront of the news.  We get some empirical evidence of Airline Code-Share Alliances and Their Competitive Effects from Philip G. Gayle at Kansas State University - Department of Economics.

ABSTRACT: Code-share alliances have become a prominent feature in the competitive landscape of the airline industry. However, policy makers are extremely hesitant to approve proposed code-share alliances when the potential partners’ route networks have significant overlap. The main concern is that an alliance may facilitate price collusion on partners’ overlapping routes. This article shows how policy makers can use a structural econometric framework to quantify the competitive effects of proposed code-share alliances, where potential alliance partners compete on overlapping routes in the prealliance industry. As an example, I apply the econometric model to the Delta/Continental/Northwest alliance. This proposed alliance was initially greeted with skepticism by the U.S. Department of Transportation owing to the potential partners’ unprecedented level of route network overlap. For the markets considered in my analyses, it appears as though the ultimate approval of the alliance by policy makers was justified.

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