Does Price Matter? Price and Non-price Competition in the Airline Industry
This paper studies passengers' choice behavior in air travel. Products are defined as a unique combination of airline and flight itinerary while markets are defined as a directional round-trip air travel between an origin and a destination city. A structural econometric model is used to investigate the relative importance of price (airfare) and non-price product characteristics in explaining passengers' choice of these differentiated products. The results suggest that, on average, prices may not be as important as we think in explaining passengers' choice behavior among alternative products. Non-price characteristics which may include convenience of flight schedules, frequent flyer programs, the quality of in-flight service, among other things, seem to be much more important in explaining passengers' choice behavior. As such, the results have implications for the focus of antitrust policies in the airline industry when assessing the impact of mergers, alliances, or other business decisions of airlines
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