Air Transport World

Changing of the guard ... and more: U.S. airline power shifting to the Sunbelt. (Observation Deck)

The current year has been filled with momentous events around the world. So it is perhaps appropriate that 1991 probably will be known as a major watershed for change in the U.S. airline industry as well.

The shifts in the power distribution among U.S. airlines, which account for 40% of the world's airline business, have been evolving since the U.S. decided to deregulate its airlines back in the fall of 1978. But die recent economic downturn, brought on in part by those other momentous world events, seems to have compressed or accelerated the schedule for change among U.S. airlines, especially among the majors.

The most significant events have been die route and other asset transfers from Pan American World Airways to Delta Air Lines. In many ways, the agreement approved by the Pan Am bankruptcy judge on Aug. …

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