Why should an industry that has ingeniously used free-market principles to squeeze the most revenue out of each middle seat be protected from competing in a real free market? Policy makers should allow foreign airlines, including discount carriers like Ryanair and global players like Qantas and British Airways, to serve domestic routes in U.S.
Competition from foreign airlines would put downward pressure on wages, something that union workers may object to. But by reducing fares and expanding service, it would also increase the demand for air travel and related services — thus, presumably, creating additional jobs during a time of persistently high unemployment.
Naturally, domestic airlines are likely to oppose such a policy. But they should realize that their current strategy to maximize profits — reducing flights and raising fares — runs the danger of alienating the American flying public and spawning new regulation.