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News Release
January 5, 2004
CONTACT: David Fish
(202) 289-8928

New Year Brings End to
Pre-Internet Travel Regs.

DOT Met Deregulatory Challenge on CRS Ruling, Adkinson Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. - One of the Bush Administration’s last acts for 2003 created one of this year’s first victories for deregulation in the digital age. On New Year’s Eve, the Department of Transportation announced the phase-out of pre-Internet era regulations of the computer reservation systems used by travel agents to book travel plans for millions of Americans. An expert who last year filed official comments with the agency in favor of deregulation says the Administration met an important test.

“After extensive analysis and an exhaustive dialogue with the travel community, the Department concluded that the existing CRS rules are no longer necessary given dramatic changes that have taken, and continue to take, place in how airline tickets are bought and sold,” read the DOT announcement.

According to Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Policy Counsel William F. Adkinson, Jr., ending the 20-year-old, pre-Internet regulation of the computer reservation system confirms the Administration’s deregulatory and pro-competitive intent. “DOT chose a free-market solution in an innovation-driven market, and that bodes well for deregulation generally,” he said.

Adkinson had been critical of the DOT in a recent opinion article for overseeing “a textbook example of regulatory failure” and “add[ing] regulations that fail to keep pace with technological innovations and business changes.” Since CRSs are now independent of airline ownership and the market has been utterly transformed since the regulations began, he had argued that deregulation was overdue.

“The bargaining power and distribution systems of airlines, the rivalry among CRSs for travel agent business and competition among travel agents ensure a competitive marketplace,” he wrote.

Adkinson gave testimony and filed written comments in DOT’s rulemaking proceeding. The opinion piece cited above ran in the Washington Times in November.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the impact of the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1993.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation