Air Transport World

Outrunning the bear.(Editorial)

There's an old joke about competition in the airline industry and it goes something like this: Two airline CEOs are on a camping trip when they see--and are seen by--a large, hungry grizzly bear. The first CEO immediately takes off his hiking boots and starts lacing up a pair of running shoes. The second says, "Are you crazy? You can't outrun a bear!" To which the first replies, "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

Sadly, there's an element of truth to this joke, because for the last decade or so that's the way competition among the legacy airlines has been managed: Don't confront the bear, meaning the rising tide of low-cost carriers. Instead, put your energy into staying just ahead of the other guy, who more or less is the same as you. …

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