In the Nov. 18, 2002, edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology featuring a special report on the airline industry, the cover text exclaimed, “Restructure . . . Or Die.” At the time, low productivity, high costs and an onslaught of low-fare carriers grabbing market share were the bane of most large airlines’ existence, especially in the U.S. and Europe. Fact is, running a major airline successfully is akin to a crapshoot; there is always the risk stakeholders can lose big even when ...

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