Ata: Small Airline, Tricky Flight Plan
For the past two years, the major airlines have all but owned the skyways to and from the nation's largest cities. A strong economy combined with the 1996 ValuJet Airlines Inc. crash have left consumers less interested in low-fare airlines. And the lack of landing slots in major airports--which are more concentrated than ever in the hands of the big carriers--has made it difficult for startups even to gain entry. The result: The six largest airlines' profits jumped 70% last year, to $4.8 billion.
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