In “Defensive Offense” (AW&ST Dec. 5, 2011, p. 42) Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker is quoted as saying, “Yes, we have governments support us, in the same way as Europeans did before their privatization.” Well, not exactly the same: Air carrier subsidies from the 1930s through the 1960s weren't just helping companies hone their business models. Airlines back then were pioneering the entire industry: routes, reliable aircraft and engines, en route navigation and approach procedures, high-altitude and over-water operations—most of the things that a startup airline's management can take for granted today.

Denver, Colo.