Evidence on Pricing from the Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines Code-Share Agreement
24 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2005
Date Written: March 2005
Recent code-share agreements among major US airlines represent a significant development in the airline industry, as these agreements allow the partner airlines to sell seats on each other's flights across the US. In this paper, we examine with original data how prices and passenger volumes were affected by the first significant alliance among major US carriers, the 1999 alliance between Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines. We find evidence of higher passenger volumes and lower prices across markets in which CO-NW code-shared. However, we also find evidence of significantly higher prices across markets with nonstop flights from CO and NW. In these markets, our results suggest that, as CO-NW used their agreement to expand the pool of passengers to whom they can sell seats on their aircraft, they have in turn extracted a higher price, on average. Hence, airlines need not be colluding for prices to rise following code-share agreements. This finding is significant for policy-makers traditionally focus on collusion in their reviews of these agreements.
Keywords: Antitrust, Code-Share, Airline Alliances
JEL Classification: L11, L40, C31, L93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation