The U.S. Air Transport Assn. estimates an aggregate net profit for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines of $2-3 billion in 2006, and initial financial reports for the year are promising (see p. 34; and AW&ST Jan. 15, p. 406). The ATA forecast for 2007 is $4 billion net. After five years in which these airlines netted $35 billion in losses--not counting restructuring costs or gains--the favorable projections feel good. But let's not get carried away. To begin, consider the uneven ...

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