The Future of Air Travel
Kevin Salwen on Travel
Interesting interview inside today's WSJ with Gordon Bethune, the soon-to-retire CEO of Continental Airlines and one of the smartest guys in the business. Bethune's chat with the WSJ's Scott McCartney offered these insights into how air travel will be changing:
-- Rising fares. We've seen already this week a fare hike from American being matched by competitors to cover fuel and other increased costs. But Bethune sees them going still higher as even discount airlines are warning of losses because of rising oil prices.
-- Fewer big carriers. The industry had losses of $23 billion in the past four years, so some airlines are certain to fail, Bethune says. In turn, those financial problems will make regulators more willing to accept mergers and acquisitions.
-- More entertainment. Expect skirmishes over back-of-the-seat entertainment to break out, as carriers seek differentiation.
-- Food, glorious food. OK, maybe glorious is too strong, but carriers will bring back food as another differentiating feature.
Lastly, Bethune calls the airline business: 'The most dysfunctional industry I've ever seen.' We travelers probably would have a hard time debating that.