Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

Competition means lower prices, improved service for consumers

Concerning the city of Kenai's decision to spend $20,000 on a study of local airfares and how to better market the Kenai airport, I had two reactions.

The first was to Era's argument that the city should not research why we pay so much for scheduled air service and that Era should have a hand in any such research. (Anchorage resident and Era senior vice president Paul) "Landis took offense to the council involving itself in air fares and soliciting competition."

The council is not investigating whether we need yet another mediocre Greek-Italian-Mexican restaurant in the area. It would be looking at transportation options and whether they could be more cost-effective for local citizens. Scheduled air service is a very important service in our area. When seeking medical care, visiting families or traveling on business, reliable and cost-effective air carriers would benefit community members.

My other reaction was to the cost of the study by an Outside consulting firm. Does it really take $20,000 to determine the factors involved?

Looking back at the 66 tickets and vouchers I have purchased on Era in the last four years, the lowest fare was $104.75 for round trip vouchers to Anchorage when Era was competing against TransNorthern Aviation. The high

is $149.75 vouchers and $170 round-trip tickets now that they have no competition. Fares on the competitive airlines were $10 to $20 lower than those lowest Era fares. Competition improves the market and benefits the consumer -- what a nice, American concept!

Portland-Seattle is another route where deHavilland Dash-8s are used. The distance is twice as far but an advance purchase round trip is only $117.25. That route is served by more than one airline

I have seen Era reduce their fares when Yute Air and TransNorthern Aviation were in the Kenai market only to raise them again when there was no competition. I always tried to use the competitive air carrier to try to keep that option open and because they were cheaper and I experienced fewer maintenance delays and lost baggage than I do on Era. If we can attract another air carrier, I encourage others to do the same.

David Thomas, Kenai

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