Business: Cheap Flights

Europe emulates the U.S.

To most Europeans, train travel has been a way of life. It is fast, efficient and cheap. European air travel, on the other hand, has been fast, efficient and expensive. National air carriers divide up the market and, lacking stiff competition, charge pretty much what they please. Until last month, a 213-mile Paris-London flight cost twice as much as a 205-mile New York-Washington trip.

In a move to attract more nonbusiness customers and to fill half-empty, off-peak-hour flights, European air executives are starting to realize what their American counterparts learned this summer: lower fares lead to more customers and...

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