Future of the Airlines

Archive Report

Economic Plight of U.S. Airlines

Profit Loss and Slowdown of Passenger Growth

After riding high on the economic expansion of the 1960s, major U.S. airlines came down with record-breaking losses in 1970 and developed a bad case of jitters about the future. The Air Transport Association, a trade organization representing the scheduled airlines, estimated that the nation's 12 major carriers incurred combined losses of $123 million during the year.1 The ATA warned that without corrective steps—principally a substantial fare increase—1971 and 1972 would be progressively worse. Sen. Stuart Symington (D Mo.) voiced a widespread concern when he told the Senate on Dec. 17 that the United States faced an “economic disaster” unless something was done to help the major airlines.

As in previous periods of economic distress, ...

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