...But Not The Biggest One...

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Before the mini-jets take a serious swipe out of any airline's bottom line, the carriers have some rather more pressing problems to deal with. How about a collective debt of $100 billion (Canada's national debt is around $500 billion), losses of more than $25 billion since 9/11 and fuel prices going through the roof? Add to that a traveling public addicted to cheap air fares and, according to Forbes, there are bound to be a few more airlines augering in. But some will also prosper. Southwest, Jet Blue and Air Tran are no longer the annoying upstarts they were 15 years ago. The discounters command 30 percent of the market and, since they're structured to accommodate lower fares, they can make money when the so-called legacy carriers can't. According to one analyst, overall revenue has dropped $15 billion with revenue per seat mile dropping from about 13 cents a mile in 2000 to about 11.25 cents now. The big guys can no longer count on subsidizing the people in the back with the suits in the front section, either. With the tough economy, more and more business travelers are hunting down cheap fares, packing a lunch and putting on a set of noise-canceling headphones to drown out the crying babies.