The Competitive Enterprise Institute hereby submits these comments in response to the Departments November 15, 2002 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), 67 Fed. Reg. 69366, and in light of the comments and testimony the Department has received thus far.
While CEI endorses DOT’s deregulatory mindset, the NPRM is a mishmash of rules that increases the Department’s regulatory role in some areas, eliminates it in others, and expands it to CRSs not owned or controlled by airlines – the latter being a controversial and unwarranted extension of DOT’s regulatory function.
DOT’s proposed rules express outmoded concepts of monopoly, ignoring competition between vendors and between travel agents – a declaration that remains as true today as it was when CEI first declared such in its comments to the 1992 rulemaking.1 DOT failed to appreciate the market then; it falls short of understanding it now. Some things never change, or are allowed to change – as reflected by the unremitting sunset extensions to this current 1997 rulemaking process.
With regard to specific issues, CEI believes that the NPRM attempts to unconstitutionally regulate information sharing and impermissibly extend its jurisdiction to CRSs not owned by air carriers beyond its statutory authority. In addition, CEI opposes a transitional rule that would needlessly continue these regulations.
Simply put, it’s time to recognize that current market dynamics have outstripped the original and continued purpose for CRS regulation. The NPRM should be withdrawn and the current CRS regulations should be allowed to expire on January 31, 2004.