The Air Up There: Making Sense of Aviation Policy

Nov 20, 2007
Oklahoma City Conference Room<br /> U.S. DOT Building, West Tower<br /> New Jersey Avenue, SE


Dr. Kenneth Button 
Professor of Public Policy and
Director, Center for Transportation Policy, Operations,
and Logistics
George Mason University

Click Here to view Dr. Button's powerpoint presentation.

Tyler D. Duvall
Assistant Secretary for
Transportation Policy
Department of Transportation 

Fred L. Smith, Jr.
President & Founder
Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Mr. Andrew Steinberg
Assistant Secretary for Aviation &
International Affairs
Department of Transportation 

The air transportation market is increasingly a global one.  With continued advancements in transport technologies, the growth of strategic airline alliances, and the emergence of international "Open Skies agreements", the need for an effective and efficient transportation infrastructure becomes imperative.  Anything less will only add to the growing list of problems facing the United States airline industry. 

The economic deregulation of the late 1970's extended immense benefits on all users, through lower prices and improved services.  Yet key segments of the air transportation infrastructure, mainly airports and air navigation services, remain regulated and within public ownership have routinely struggled to meet customer demand.  In the thirty years since deregulation, the airline industry as a whole has suffered from negative real returns. 

The Department of Transportation, along with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, will host an interactive forum to explore the economic reasons for many of the travails facing airlines today and analyze the responses thus far.  Leading the discussion will be a world-renown expert on transportation policy, Dr. Kenneth Button.   Dr. Button has written over 80 books on the topic of transport economics and transport planning.  This session will enable DOT officials to engage Dr. Button on the economics associated with air transportation. 

Participants will develop an economic framework in which to analyze policy options as they relate to air transportation.  Dr. Button will seek to answer the following questions:

  • How can economics address the problems facing the airline industry?   How does remaining regulation in the airline industry affect consumer behavior? 
  • What can US policy makers learn from other major air transportation markets across the world?  Where have other markets found success and where do they continue to fall short of consumer demand?
  • What does economics have to say regarding the difficulties facing the US air navigation system in terms of its financing and structure?