How to Fix the Airline Mess

When Delta and Northwest airlines went bankrupt last week, it was the latest blow to an industry plagued by poor management, combative unions and huge pension burdens. Gordon Bethune, the former CEO and savior of Continental Airlines, says the government has only made the problem worse

With four major U.S. carriers in bankruptcy, the U.S. airline industry is at breaking point, and something needs to be done. The best way to fix the industry is to fix the government's role in it. For one thing, the marketplace should be picking the winners, not the government. For another, the government should also stop weighing down the survivors with unreasonable burdens.

The industry was deregulated in 1978, but you wouldn't know it from all the extra baggage it carries. The main offenders: ever increasing taxes, lack of government spending to build a modern air-traffic-control system and airports, and countless...

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