Why The Airlines Still Fly Low

In 1991, then-Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner commissioned a study into the malaise afflicting the airline industry. In my report, I identified the main issue: that real wages and incomes had fallen since a 1980s boom and had not recovered ("Sharing prosperity," Cover Story, Sept. 1). Those in the discretionary market that made up more than 80% of air travel by volume could no longer afford to fly, and an industry that had based its structure and costs on 1980s revenue demographics would still be troubled.

After several years of industry retrenchment and despite the growth of the economy since 1991, consumer and airline incomes are only now recovering. Jobs created in the continuing economic expansion simply do not create spending power commensurate with their gross numbers. And it reinforces the need for the airline industry to restructure for a changed marketplace.

Bob Mann

R.W. Mann & Co.

Port Washington, N.Y.

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