Air Transport World

A lousy business? (Editorial).(Brief Article)

As one of Wall Street's leading analysts observed last spring: The airline industry is a lousy business. He did not intend by this remark to insult the hundreds of thousands of dedicated employees who do their best every day to ensure that tens of thousands of flights take off and land safely, on time and with minimum discomfort to millions of passengers. Rather, it was an acknowledgment, based on some 75 years of real-world experience, that commercial aviation is a business that offers mediocre earnings in the (few) good years and catastrophic losses in the bad ones.

Needless to say, 2001 belongs in the latter category. Total losses are estimated at $11.9 billion (see The World Airline Report beginning on page 28), making it by far the worst 12 months in the history of commercial aviation, the previous low having been set in 1992 when $7. …

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