Turbulence Ahead for Major Airlines

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Air travel used to be controlled by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which assigned routes to the airlines, thereby eliminating competition. Then came de-regulation under President Carter in 1978. Since then, the business has bounced back from economic slumps in the 1980-s and 90-s. But then came September 11. Now, the airline business is roaring back, with American, United and four other so-called -majors- selling tickets again. The irony is they-re losing money. A new generation of companies, led by Southwest and Jet Blue, is offering not just cheaper fares, but better service, including on-time arrival. That-s great for flying customers, but how long can it last? Warren Olney speaks with travel writers, airline analysts, economists, and representatives of the airlines' trade association and pilots' association about the uncertain future of an evolving industry.
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Warren Olney