Latest Regulations Will Raise Cost of Air Travel

Mallory Carr

11/13/2012 4:22:00 PM - Mallory Carr

Regulations that vow to increase consumer safety are rarely met with resistance. After all, who wants to come out on the side for less safety? However, more often than not, these regulations tend to impede economic growth rather than achieve their intended goal of making the public safer.

Such is the case with the latest job killing regulation set to take effect next summer. The Wall Street Journal reports that new requirements for pilots will make it harder to obtain a license, increasing the required prior flight experience six-fold to 1,500 hours. This effectively raises the cost to become a pilot, shrinking the supply of newcomers to the market at the same time airlines are looking to hire more.

Currently, the occupation is aging and large numbers are set to retire. John Allen, head of flight standards with the Federal Aviation Administration, himself called the retirement figures, “astounding and dramatic" and stated that "we don't have a system to address this issue.” This should be prime time for hiring more pilots, but increasing the cost restricts the pool from which to hire. At the same time as the new requirements for a license kick in, regulations will also increase required daily rest time, further worsening the problem as airlines need more pilots to accommodate the change. The effect on airlines will be higher costs in addition to their already rising costs from higher fuel prices. Consumers will undoubtedly feel the pain in the form of higher prices as the costs get passed down.

What is prompting the new regulations in the name of ‘safety’? Has air travel become less safe lately? Actually, airplanes have never been safer. CNN named last year an “incredibly safe year for air travel,” observing that, “each year, more aircrafts take to the skies, and the chances of something going wrong continue to drop.”

With no real problem prompting this regulation, it’s the latest example of what we have come to expect over the past several years: pointless and expensive mandates that sucker punch businesses at a time when the economy simply can’t absorb the blows.