The Worst Job In America

Beset by bankruptcy, balky unions and an unwanted suitor, American Airlines' CEO is trying to set a new course for the company

Illustration by Joe Magee for TIME

Don't even think that you have a more difficult job than Tom Horton. Although some airline bosses can still seem besotted with this once glamorous business, at ground level it's an industry that has lost more than $60 billion in the past decade, erasing every penny earned in its 80-year existence. An industry whose combined market value, below $30 billion, is less than that of Starbucks, one of its vendors. One with irrational competition, uncontrollable fuel costs, a feckless regulator, and jets and airports filled with people who don't like you--and not just the passengers but your employees too. Beyond that,...

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