Warren, Hawley introduce bill to boost airline competition

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill that would boost competition in the airline industry and cut prices for consumers.

The legislation, named the “Airport Gate Competition Act,” was introduced Tuesday. The bill aims to increase the number of common-use gates available to all airlines, which proponents argue would give smaller air carriers an opportunity to compete with the “big five” airlines.

Those “big five” are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

“Giant airlines who lease airport gates, sometimes for decades at a time, would rather squash competition and leave gates empty than give smaller low-cost airlines a chance,” Warren said in a statement. “What these dominant airlines are doing is wrong and ultimately means higher prices for flyers.”

The bigger airlines control a large quantity of the gates, take-off and landing spots at their hub airports. Their size also allows them to negotiate better deals when purchasing planes.

With the legislation increasing the number of common-use gates, small airlines would be able to utilize their share of gates and shrink their operating costs.

“The Airport Gate Competition Act will open the door for more competition to make flying easier and cheaper,” Hawley said in a statement. “Consolidation in the airline industry helps multimillion dollar corporations and hurts working Americans.”

The bill would compel airports to have at least a quarter of their gates available for common use, but the number cannot cross 50 percent. The legislation would require “medium” and “large” hub airports where one or two airlines make up more than half of the passengers to lay out their new or amended leases to bolster competition.

Warren and Hawley’s bill would also make it a “priority” for the Department of Transportation (DoT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to put competition at the forefront, especially when regulating all of the airlines.

“Increasing competition for the aviation giants will lower prices for travelers and allow the millions of Americans who fly to have options for their preferred travel – and that starts with increased gate access at airports,” Hawley said.

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