The U.S. passenger airline industry has more than a few problems.
We have a shortage of trained commercial pilots and too many effective monopolies controlling airline routes. This means higher prices and not enough good options for travelers.
Still, some common sense regulatory reforms would make things a lot better.
First off, we should make it easier for pilots to qualify for commercial roles. One central problem, as the Hill reported back in September, is that commercial pilot licensing requirements have become extremely burdensome. Born of changes introduced following a 2009 crash, the Federal Aviation Administration now requires commercial pilots to have 1,500 hours under their belts rather than the original requirement of 250 hours. That vast difference adds up to a lot of extra training time and tuition expenses, and it deserves to be cut.
Indeed, in Canada a commercial pilot license requires just "200 hours total flight time and 100 hours pilot in command time including 20 hours cross country." Recognizing that 250 hours might have been too low, why don't we reduce the 1,500-hour requirement to somewhere in the region of 750 hours?
The only reason not to, is if we are happy kneeling to the Air Line Pilots Association, a special interest group. After all, that group recognizes that the harder it is to become a pilot, the higher salaries already qualified pilots will be able to charge. The pilots association doesn't care that these costs are carried by passengers, but instead by the premiums that they can win for their members!
Another major issue is that foreign carriers are prevented from operating domestic-to-domestic routes. Again, this is a product of domestic airline lobbyists who want to ensure that their clients alone have oligopoly control over U.S. routes. They know, as the increasingly competitive trans-Atlantic air passenger market has proved, that more competition will mean lower prices for passengers and the prospect of less reliable profits.
Again, however, passengers should be the ones that the regulations are designed to protect and benefit. And that reminds me of one final change we can make: privatizing the TSA screening process!
Yes, one day we'll be flying in drones, but until then, let's reform our airline industry for the benefit of all, not just a special few.