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Do Airlines in Chapter 11 Harm Their Rivals? Bankruptcy and Pricing Behavior in U.S. Airline Markets

Author

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  • Severin Borenstein
  • Nancy L. Rose

Abstract

The behavior of firms in financial distress has attracted considerable academic and policy interest in recent years. The turmoil in the U.S. airline industry has triggered much of the public policy discussion, as some observers have argued that airlines in financial distress, particularly those operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reduce prices to the point of harming themselves and their competitors. This study investigates the pricing strategies of bankrupt airlines and their rivals. The data suggest that an airline's prices typically decline somewhat before it files for bankruptcy protection and remain slightly depressed over the subsequent two or three quarters. We find no evidence that competitors of the bankrupt airline lower their prices, however, nor that they lose passengers to their bankrupt rival. These results indicate that bankrupt carriers do not harm the financial health of their competitors.

Suggested Citation

  • Severin Borenstein & Nancy L. Rose, 1995. "Do Airlines in Chapter 11 Harm Their Rivals? Bankruptcy and Pricing Behavior in U.S. Airline Markets," NBER Working Papers 5047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5047
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kovenock, Dan & Phillips, Gordon M, 1997. "Capital Structure and Product Market Behavior: An Examination of Plant Exit and Investment Decisions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(3), pages 767-803.
    2. Chevalier, Judith A & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 703-725, September.
    3. Borenstein, Severin & Rose, Nancy L, 1994. "Competition and Price Dispersion in the U.S. Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 653-683, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Weiss, Lawrence A. & Wruck, Karen H., 1998. "Information problems, conflicts of interest, and asset stripping:: Chapter 1's failure in the case of Eastern Airlines1," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-97, April.
    2. Gordon M. Phillips & Giorgo Sertsios, 2011. "How Do Firm Financial Conditions Affect Product Quality and Pricing?," NBER Working Papers 17233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation

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