DP13346 Market Structure and Competition in Airline Markets

Author(s): Federico Ciliberto, Charles Murry, Elie Tamer
Publication Date: November 2018
Keyword(s): Entry, market power, market structure, merger, multiple equilibria, oligopoly, Self-selection
JEL(s): C35, C51, D43, L13, L41, L44
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13346

We provide an econometric framework for estimating a game of simultaneous entry and pricing decisions in oligopolistic markets while allowing for correlations between unobserved fixed costs, marginal costs, and demand shocks. Firms' decisions to enter a market are based on whether they will realize positive profits from entry. We use our framework to quantitatively account for this selection problem in the pricing stage. We estimate this model using cross-sectional data from the US airline industry. We find that not accounting for endogenous entry leads to overestimation of demand elasticities. This, in turn, leads to biased markups, which has implications for the policy evaluation of market power. Our methodology allows us to study how firms optimally decide entry/exit decision in response to a change in policy. We simulate a merger between American and US Airways and we find that the post-merger market structure and prices depend crucially on how we model the characteristics of the post-merger firm as a function of the pre-merger firms' characteristics. Overall, the merged firm has a strong incentive to enter new markets; the merged firm faces a stronger threat of entry from rival legacy carriers, as opposed to low cost carriers; and, post-merger entry mitigates the adverse effects of increased concentration.