Aviation: Is This Any Way to Buy an Airline?

It is a wonder that anyone would want to buy the "Mickey Mouse airline," which is what patrons of Air West call the Western states' regional carrier. Its turboprop planes are notorious for late arrivals and departures, and the company is losing cash nose over wingtip. It ran up a deficit of $3.6 million in the first nine months of 1968. For all that, Hermit Billionaire Howard Hughes eagerly snatched up Air West on New Year's Day.

The line was the product of a unique three-way merger that in 1968 brought together Pacific Air Lines of San...

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