Turbulent Times for America's Airlines

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Since deregulation, America's airlines have expanded by a factor of ten and there has not been a major crash since 2001. But the recent grounding of thousands of flights, which stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers, and evidence that the Federal Aviation Administration is too cozy with the companies it regulates have raised concerns about safety. Whistle-blowing FAA inspectors told Congress that Southwest Airlines had been allowed to skip inspections for fuselage cracks for as long as nine months. Southwest was fined $10 million, and the FAA began an "industry-wide audit."  Meantime, smaller airlines have gone under or filed for bankruptcy, and big ones are talking about mergers. Is the agency trying to reassert itself and reassure the flying public that all is well? Were passengers really at risk? With airlines folding, going bankrupt and looking at mergers, are the industry and its passengers in for a troubled future?




Warren Olney