Guam’s delegate to Congress has threatened “Congressional intervention” over the high fares between the US mainland and Guam on United Airlines, particularly in light of Typhoon Mawar.
Guam Delegate Threatens “Congressional Intervention” Over High Fares On United Airlines
James C. Moylan, who represents Guam as a non-voting delegate to the US House of Representatives, sent a note to United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, complaining about high fares to Guam.
I am writing this letter to express my concerns about the absurd costs for one to travel to and from Guam, especially as we face the aftermath of a major natural disaster in Guam which will surely impact our economic activity in an adverse manner over the coming weeks and months. There are many islands residents residing on the mainland who would like to visit home to assist their elderly, but basic economy seats estimate between $4K to $5K if you are traveling in the next few weeks, with premium seats exceeding $7K.
In looking at last-minute fares, I do see fares are high to Guam…though they don’t appear to be quite as high as the Congressman warned, though routings with the shortest connections are quite pricey:
While I was looking for a flight home, Prices on economy and premium literally ranged from $5K to $11K. I was able to find a flight at a little over $5K which would still foie me to overnight in Houston, which means an additional cost in securing a hotel. A news outlet in Hawaii even a ran a story on the costs to travel Guam after the storm passed, and questioned if price gouging is even taking place. In 2022, a mainland flight could cost around $2,500 from Guam, and now these seats exceed $3K (look at the costs in July). We need some answers because these types of fares will certainly warrant some congressional intervention, and a review from the Guam Attorney General. I do want to note that United Airlines does have a monopoly on the Guam to mainland market.
And there goes my sympathy for the Congressman. Flights are expensive because folks are trying to return to Guam to care for loved ones. Rather than United price gouging, the more likely explanation is that all of the cheap fare buckets are sold out and the flights–whether via Honolulu or Tokyo–are quite full.
Last I checked, United Airlines is not in the charity business (that is only US taxpayers who bailed out United and others during the pandemic and received virtually nothing in return…)
United has a monopoly on Guam routes not by government fiat but because no other carrier has chosen to compete with United. Specifically, Delta Air Lines has abandoned its Guam flights leaving United as the sole operator.
Frankly, I’m not even sure United makes money on its Guam operations, but it certainly does serve as a lifeline to that region of the world.
Subsidizing fares does not strike me as a rational approach to serving Guam. But Moylan wants “compassion” from United:
While I am certain that demand and supply factors impact the fares, United Airlines to show some compassion…Island residents should not be penalized with abused costs to travel to and from Guam which is exactly what is taking place. It is literally more cost effective for one to travel to Europe from teh mainland, than to the US territory of Guam…
Yes, that again is supply and demand. Competition is fierce on European routes and the distance of a flight has never correlated to their price.
You can view Moylan’s full letter below:
Moyland wants to “find some solutions” but it seems to me the only “solution” he can offer is to subsidize fares for local residents, which will only further distort the balance between supply and demand.
Guam is a tricky case. Fares are high. But asking United to lower the costs of seats when flights are going out full seems to be a fool’s errand. Setting a price ceiling on this route will only make the situation worse.