For many years, the dominant position of Northwest Airlines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has discouraged many competing airlines from offering local service. On Wednesday, however, two discount airlines announced plans to begin service. Consumers will now have more options as the metro area will be more open to competing companies.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission discussed plans to make the airport more competitive for consumers because of federal pressure. Only 24 airlines, including charters, currently offer service to the airport. The low level of competition has made it unnecessary for airlines to offer competitive prices. Allowing more carriers to operate at the airport will force Northwest to lower its relatively high prices and will likely lead to more direct flights to more destinations.
The benefits that will result from increased options for consumers will outweigh any reduction in Northwest’s local service. While the carrier does bring a large volume of traffic to the airport, Minnesotans see little benefit. The MAC should not hesitate to encourage more airlines to operate in our market. Northwest has had a dominant position for far too long.