Airport deregulation: Effects on pricing and capacity
We use a model of vertical relations between two congestible airports and an airline oligopoly to examine, both analytically and numerically, how deregulation may affect airports prices and capacities. We find that: (i) unregulated profit-maximizing airports would overcharge for the congestion externality and, compared to the first-best, would induce large allocative inefficiencies and dead-weight losses. They would restrict capacity investments but, overall, would induce fewer delays; (ii) Welfare maximization subject to cost recovery performs quite well, achieving congestion levels similar to a private-unregulated airport but without inducing such large traffic contraction; this puts a question mark on the desirability of deregulation of private airports; (iii) Increased cooperation between airlines and airports provides some improvements, but the resulting airport pricing strategy leads to a downstream airline cartel; (iv) When schedule delay costs effects are strong and airline differentiation is weak, it may be optimal to have a single airline dominating the airports, but this happens only when airports' pricing schemes render the number of airlines irrelevant for competition.
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