Southwest Airlines

Don't mess with Texas? Don't mess with us!

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The big news in business yesterday was yet another step towards consolidation in the airline industry, as Southwest announced a plan to acquire AirTran for $1.4 billion. If you're a remotely frequent flier, you may be wondering what this means for flight availability, fares, and the beloved Southwest brand. If you're a student of public policy, or an official involved with crafting it, you may be wondering what this means for competition within the airline industry and, more broadly, for the economy. Well, I really can't answer your questions. I have zero expertise on the airline industry.

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Victoria Burnett of The New York Times recently wrote a fascinating piece about Spain's entry into the wild world of high-speed rail. The country's first route, between Madrid and Seville, opened in 1992. Since then, the national rail network has grown to some 2,000 kilometers of track, and it's proven so wildly popular that politicians from all parties are tripping over themselves to bolster service—the current plan calls for 10,000 kilometers of track by 2020.

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