Alfred E. Kahn
“Father of Airline Deregulation" Dies At 93
December 29, 2010 – Alfred E. Kahn “Father of Airline
Deregulation," died of cancer on Monday at the age of
93. Kahn was an American professor, an expert in
regulation and deregulation, and an important influence
in the deregulation of the airline and energy industries
during the late 1970’s.
Kahn, (October 17, 1917 - December 27, 2010), was
commonly known as the "Father of Airline Deregulation,"
he chaired the Civil Aeronautics Board during the period
when it ended its regulation of the airline industry,
paving the way for low-cost airlines, from People
Express to Southwest Airlines. He was the Robert Julius
Thorne Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at
Generally considered a liberal Democrat, Kahn’s strong
advocacy of deregulation stemmed largely from his
understanding as an economist of marginal-cost theory.
In his time at the New York Public Service Commission he
was instrumental in using marginal costs to help price
electricity and telecommunications services; this was
novel at the time but is routinely performed today.
serving as Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), which
regulated commercial airline fares, in 1977-1978, Kahn (a
self-described "good liberal Democrat") oversaw the deregulation
of commercial air fares. As one analyst put it, Kahn "set to
work with other progressives" including Senator Edward Kennedy,
future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and consumer
advocate Ralph Nader to "dismantle anti-consumer cartels that
had been sustained by government regulation."
consistently argued that, where feasible, complete deregulation
is preferable to partial deregulation. “The verdict of the great
majority of economists would, I believe, be that deregulation
has been a success, bearing in mind, as always, the central
argument that society’s choices are always between or among
imperfect systems, but that, wherever it seems likely to be
effective, even very imperfect competition is preferable to
regulation. Recent experience clearly suggests, instead, that
the mixed system may be the worst of both possible worlds."
In an interview with USA Today, he said that he wished that he could have deregulated the telecommunications industry. He has served as an expert witness in many regulatory matters, particularly in issues regarding flat rate pricing for telecommunications, marginal costing in both telecommunications and electricity, and net neutrality.
Kahn has authored
numerous books, including The Economics of Regulation: Principles and
Institutions, Lessons from Deregulation: Telecommunications and Airlines
After the Crunch, Whom the Gods Would Destroy, or How Not to Deregulate,
Letting Go: Deregulating the Process of Deregulation, and
Deregulation Act is a
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