Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conduct Parameters in the Airline Industry

51 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2012  

Federico Ciliberto

University of Virginia - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 2012

Abstract

We show that multimarket contact facilitates tacit collusion in the US airline industry using two complementary approaches. First, we show that the more extensive is the overlap in the markets that the two firms serve, i) the more firms internalize the effect of their pricing decisions on the profit of their competitors by reducing the discrepancy in their prices, and ii) the greater the rigidity of prices over time.

Next, we develop a flexible model of oligopolistic behavior, where conduct parameters are modeled as functions of multimarket contact. We find i) carriers with little multimarket contact do not cooperate in setting fares, while carriers serving many markets simultaneously sustain almost perfect coordination; ii) cross-price elasticities play a crucial role in determining the impact of multimarket contact on collusive behavior and equilibrium fares; iii) marginal changes in multimarket contact matter only at low or moderate levels of contact; iv) assuming that firms behave as Bertrand-Nash competitors leads to biased estimates of marginal costs.

Keywords: Airline Industry, Airport Facilities, Collusion, Differentiated Products, Multi-Market Contact, Price Rigidity., Screening Test

JEL Classification: L13

Suggested Citation

Ciliberto, Federico, Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conduct Parameters in the Airline Industry (June 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153447

Federico Ciliberto (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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