Potential Airline Merger Could Mean Higher Prices
Talk to any passenger at the airport,and the price of their ticket is bound to come up...
"You expect to pay like a thousand dollars going out of the country anywhere," says Gardner-Webb University student Chelsea Price. That's about what she spent for a ticket to London for her study abroad this semester. She says domestic fares are high too.
Airline industry expert and UNC Charlotte professor Dr. Peter Schwarz says, in 2013, prepare to dig even deeper into your pocket. He says airline mergers are largely to blame. "In order for the airlines to become financially sound," he says, "there has to be consolidation, there have to be fewer seats available and that means there have to be higher prices."
While that appears to be bad for travelers, he says, you have to look at the bigger picture: "It also is likely to give consumers less concerns that the airline is trying to cut maintenance costs." Bankrupt American Airlines and Charlotte-hubbed U.S. Airways are the latest major carriers talking about joining forces. "All signs are pointing towards a merger," adds Schwarz.
U.S. Airways spokesperson Davien Robinson declined to talk about that, but was quick to point out, "One of the most exciting things we have to offer our customers coming up in 2013 is our new service to Sao Paulo in Brazil from Charlotte."
More destinations? Experts say that's generally a by-product of airline consolidation. But back to the bottom line, both for airlines and you... "80 to 85 percent of the seats are taken," says Schwarz, "so they really are at the point where they don't have to concern themselves too much with price as far as giving people a bargain."
Which is disconcerting for Chelsea Price, but not a deal breaker. "I'll think about traveling a little less," she says, "but I'll still want to. I don't think it'll deter me from going places I want to go." And she likely won't be alone.