Monopoly in the ski industry |

Monopoly in the ski industry

Start saving now. The cost of a ski pass is going up. Thanks to acquisitions by Aspen Skiing Co. and its partners, there will soon be essentially only two operators of ski resorts in the West, assuming, of course, that the Federal Trade Commission permits the mergers.

According to The Aspen Times, “Skico Chief Executive Officer David Perry said it’s a growing trend in the travel and leisure industry to bundle experiences for people who want to gain new experiences and try new things. Skiing is no different, he said.”

Perry was reading from a standard script prepared by the lawyers. A few years ago the same script was used when Delta Air Lines purchased NWA. Then executives from United and Continental Airlines spouted the same lines when the two airlines merged. Most recently it was executives from US Air and American who muttered the lines.

We all know the results. Air travel has become more expensive and more uncomfortable.

Adjusted for inflation, the cost of flying has almost doubled since 1978, when Congress deregulated the airlines. Meantime, comfort has declined 90 percent. It has gotten to the point where The New York Times reported that airline executives do not want to think of themselves as in the service business. To the executives, pesky passengers are a nuisance. They, like the executives of railroads in 1950, prefer freight to passengers. Freight, after all, does not complain when bumped.

It will be no different in the ski industry. Monopoly breeds high prices and contempt of the customers. Those who cannot pay full price (locals) will see their access steadily reduced while those willing to pay full price will be charged more and more.

Monopoly is becoming the way of the U.S., particularly in the Roaring Fork Valley. Health costs keep rising as the number of providers declines. Gasoline costs are much higher in the valley than Denver thanks to a monopoly. Air fares are artificially high. Soon the cost of skiing will double thanks to the merges.

It is only wages and income that do not rise. Enjoy the views.

Philip Verleger


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