Politicians love telling airlines how to run their show. They can’t help themselves. Air transport is too appealing for them to let it fly alone. It sells well. It makes great headlines. Air transport brings in the right votes at the right time in the ballot box.
For example, some politicians love telling private airlines where to place their hub. It is normally – not surprisingly – the airport of the region where they come from. Little does it matter if the victim-company only targets point-to-point business.
They also love telling them which destinations to fly to. Voters already enjoy direct flights to sunny Mediterranean resorts. People need new experiences. Glamorous overseas destinations such as Bangkok, or Tokyo, or Kuala Lumpur will do.
Politicians don’t seem to be aware that private airlines are quite capable of figuring things out without their help. Private airlines do not need political meddling that mars business. Overseas flights won’t happen unless there is a market for them. Some markets need a critical mass of potential passengers to take off. No matter how long you make your runway or how big your terminal is, airplanes won’t fly without much needed customers.
At the same time, politicians are usually reluctant to bind themselves in public to any airport expansion project. Left and right alike are well aware of the devastating power of angry nearby residents and committed environmental groups.
Politicians should just turn their aero-savvy ideas into prompt aero-legislation. Their job is simply to facilitate airport development. The main foe to economic development of many regions is not the inability of private airlines to develop their business. It is rather the chronic political indecision over airport improvement plans.