William J. McGee Joins Economic Liberties as Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel
Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project is excited to announce today that William J. McGee, a veteran consumer advocate and aviation expert with decades of experience standing up against airline industry consolidation and in support of passengers, has joined Economic Liberties as Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the American Economic Liberties Project at a time when the rights of air travelers have never been more threatened and as the airline industry epitomizes all the harmful effects of corporate concentration,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel. “There have never been fewer airlines or more customer complaints in the history of our nation’s airline industry, and numerous challenges await us — from pending mergers to unpaid airline refunds, and from an outbreak of flight cancelations to weakening oversight of safety. Economic Liberties has already shown its willingness to fight for fairness and justice for all Americans and to fight against concentrated market power, which is so blatantly destroying commercial aviation nationwide, and much more unequally in underserved regions. I can’t wait to engage with the gloves off.”
“Ruthless industry consolidation spurred on by 40 years of deregulation has allowed airlines to unilaterally decide which communities can access the global economy and which will be cut off,” said Sarah Miller, Executive Director of the American Economic Liberties Project. “While Wall Street financiers and consulting firms have made billions merging and stripping the industry, rural and midsize communities have been abandoned, forced to pay exorbitant prices to access basic services. We’re excited to bring a seasoned industry expert like Bill McGee into this fight to address the root causes of this regional inequality and to put power back into the hands of consumers and these communities.”
Economic Liberties launched in February 2020 with one critical goal: to arm policymakers to confront concentrated economic power and to hold them accountable when they do not. With a growing network of allies, Economic Liberties is succeeding, advancing policies at the state, local, and federal levels to reinvigorate competition and combat monopolies and the systems that entrench their power.
Over the years, the commercial aviation industry has become emblematic of how unchecked concentrated economic power only serves to harm consumer choice and welfare. A wave of rubber-stamped mergers has dramatically shrunk the domestic airline industry so that now only four carriers and their partners — American, Delta, Southwest, and United — control about 85% of the market and use that power to intimidate legislators, regulators, communities, airports, labor unions, and passengers. What’s more, between 2007 and 2021, not a single new-entrant scheduled airline launched service in the United States, the longest such stretch at any time since the industry was founded in 1914. It’s clear that 44 years of airline deregulation have failed, and Economic Liberties will now be at the forefront of proposing solutions that will benefit customers, employees, and cities throughout America.
McGee spent 22 years at Consumer Reports, first as the Editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter and since 2009 as the Aviation Adviser for Advocacy, testifying before Congress numerous times on airline mergers, competition, safety, and passenger rights, as well as serving as the lone consumer advocate on Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee. In addition to a monthly travel column in USA Today that addressed a broader set of issues in the travel industry, McGee has contributed to Condé Nast Traveler, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Money, New York, Parents, Good Housekeeping, and many other magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs. He is an FAA-licensed aircraft dispatcher who spent seven years in airline flight operations management and was a Flight Release Officer in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. While McGee’s recent focus has been on the airline industry, he is also well versed in other issues in the travel ecosystem, including hotels/resorts, cruise lines, car rentals, travel agencies, theme parks, travel insurance, and travel scams. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and is the author of two books, the airline industry exposé Attention All Passengers and Half the Child.
The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.