Weidenbaum Center hosts St. Louis Forum on future of airline industry, Oct. 31

The “Future of the Airline Industry” will be the topic of a public forum at Washington University in St. Louis from 7:30 a.m until 11:30 a.m. Oct. 31. The discussion will be timely since it comes just one day before American Airlines plans to begin a major downsizing of its hub at St. Louis’ Lambert Airport, a reduction expected to cut the airline’s daily departing flights from 417 to 207.

Leonard L. Griggs, Jr., Director of Lambert - St. Louis International Airport
Leonard L. Griggs, Jr., Director of Lambert – St. Louis International Airport

Sponsored by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, the event is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom, Anheuser-Busch Hall, School of Law. Registration at 7:30 a.m.; program begins promptly at 8 a.m. For more information, contact Melinda Warren at (314) 935-5652; warren@wc.wustl.edu or visit the Weidenbaum Center website at http://wc.wustl.edu.

The program kicks off with a keynote address on “Federal Policy and the Future of the Airline Industry” by Michael Levine, a nationally known authority on airline industry trends. Currently an adjunct professor of law at Yale University, Levine has written extensively on airline issues and is often called upon to provide government testimony on related legislation. As an executive at Northwest Airlines, he was responsible for the overhaul of domestic and international route systems and fleet strategy, and for developing and executing Northwest’s path-breaking alliance strategy. He was instrumental in bringing about airline deregulation as general director of International and Domestic Aviation at the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Levine’s talk will be followed by two panel discussions: one on “challenges to federal policy toward airlines” and another exploring St. Louis airline industry issues, including economic and job implications of the American Airlines hub reduction.

Panel participants include Clinton Oster, professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University; Jan K. Brueckner , professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jeffrey Stanley of United Airlines; Cletus Coughlin, vice president and deputy director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Bryan Bezold of the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association; Leonard Griggs of the St. Louis Airport Authority.

Note: A copy of Brueckner’s paper on “The Economic Impact of Flight Cutbacks at the St. Louis Airport: A Calculation of Job Losses” is available for download; hard copies available on request.

Additional Biographical Information: Michael E. Levine

Michael E. Levine’s unusual combination of experiences has involved him in the world of air transportation and its regulation as a senior airline executive, an academic and a government official. He retired from Northwest Airlines in 1999 to return to academic life as a member of the faculty of the Harvard Law School.

As an airline executive, Levine served at Continental and Northwest as an Executive Vice President and was President and CEO of New York Air, guiding that post-deregulation airline to its first profit. In his most recent industry position at Northwest Airlines, Levine was responsible for all marketing, pricing, sales and route and fleet planning activities, for its international alliances and activities, and for information technology, reservations and electronic distribution. He was principally responsible for the overhaul of Northwest’s domestic and international route systems to concentrate on its hubs at Detroit, Minneapolis, Memphis and Japan, for its fleet strategy, and for developing and executing Northwest’s path-breaking alliance strategy, including its historic joint venture with KLM and its alliances with Air China, Continental and Alitalia.

Levine currently is adjunct professor of Law at Yale. He previously served as Dean of Yale University’s School of Management and held professorial chairs at Caltech, Harvard and USC. Levine has been an academic visitor at the London School of Economics and Duke University. He has done pioneering work on airline deregulation, on the application of market mechanisms to airport congestion, on committees and agendas and on the origins of regulation and the behavior of regulatory agencies.

As a government official, Levine was instrumental in bringing about airline deregulation. In 1978 and 1979, he served as General Director, International and Domestic Aviation, (the senior staff position at the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board) and devised many of the mechanisms and practices used to deregulate the industry.

Levine was appointed by the President in 1987 to serve as a member of the Aviation Safety Commission, established by Congress to evaluate the Government’s aviation safety and air traffic control activities and to recommend government efforts to ensure aviation safety in a deregulated industry. He served on a National Academy of Sciences committee, which reported in 1991 on airline service and safety since deregulation and on a National Academy of Public Adminstration panel that reported in 2000 on airport security.

Levine currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Rohn Industries, a publicly-held manufacturer of communications infrastructure. He has been a consultant to numerous private and public organizations and serves on the Boards of Reed College, the UNR Asbestos Disease Claims Trust and the Instut du Transport Aerien in Paris.

Levine holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Reed College and a law degree from Yale. He did graduate study in economics at Yale and the University of Chicago, and has been an academic visitor at the London School of Economics.