Business: AIRPORTS: The Crowded Ground

SIX years ago, Los Angeles International Airport dedicated new terminal facilities that were supposed to represent the wave of the future. Designed to handle 15 million passengers a year, the seven highly automated "satellite terminals" are already obsolete.

"Sure, we badly underestimated our growth factor," admits Deputy General Manager Robert C. Davidson. "But no one could accurately forecast the fantastic growth that air travel has experienced in the past six years." He has a point. In 1959, the first full year of commercial jet travel, 51 million domestic passengers boarded planes in U.S. airports. Less than ten years later, the total has...