Clear the Runway: The Fight Over ‘Uber for Planes’ Is Coming to Congress
The FAA banned flight-sharing apps, but Sen. Mike Lee has introduced a bill to overturn that decision.
Reason Magazine cites CEI’s Marc Scribner on regulations that could harm the sharing economy for private planes.
In other words, the battle over flight-sharing has followed a predicable arc familiar to anyone who has watches the interplay between Congress and the executive branch on a host of subjects, from health care to the environment. Congress passes a broad, ill-defined statute and leaves federal regulators to create specific rules within that standard. When the resulting rules do not comport with congressional intentions, lawsuits are launched. The courts usually side with the regulators, because Congress granted them the authority to make those rules.
“The problem here is that Congress has granted an incredible amount of authority over the decades to the FAA,” says Marc Scribner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Lee’s bill, Scribner says, is exactly the type of thing Congress should be doing more of—clarifying in statute how regulatory bodies should be engaging innovative developments in the marketplace. “This is a job for Congress, not for the regulators,” he says.
The FAA could decide on its own to pull a 180 on flight-sharing—or could be ordered to do so by President Donald Trump or Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. But congressional action would have the most lasting impact, and would provide important clarity to the question of what constitutes a common carrier for the purposes of FAA regulation, something that may factor into future developments in air travel.