The political economy of why your flight is two hours late today

23 Apr

Flights were delayed by up to two hours across the country on Monday…Airline executives were furious over how the {Federal} aviation agency handled the government-inflicted chaos, and privately said the agency was seeking to impose the maximum possible pain for passengers to make a political point.

The airline executives in this NYT story are using a venerable and plausible theory of how government agencies behave in response to budget cuts. An agency would strategically cut areas that make the public howl in pain so as to increase the probability that the cuts will be reversed. If the agency cut areas that did not directly affect the public, it risks the public and politicians saying “good riddance” and making the cuts permanent.

Quotes from anonymous airline executives do not an empirical proof make, of course. I hope someone is using the current sequester to collect some data on some natural experiment that would test this theory.

https://i1.wp.com/rittenhoused.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/airline-delays.jpg