Airlines: Straining to Pay for Tomorrow

The most consistent phenomenon of U.S. airlines has long been their remarkable expansion. The industry has grown an average of 14% a year since 1950, nearly twice as fast as runner-up electric utilities. In the year just ended, the airlines outdid themselves. Operating revenues rose 23% to $7 billion, and traffic gained 25% to 100 billion revenue passenger miles (the number of paying passengers multiplied by the distance flown). Yet the faster the airlines grow, the more they must strain for funds to finance tomorrow. Pan American World Airways last week obtained...

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