Unprofitable Skies

The effects of fare wars and sluggish ticket sales, which have buffeted lesser players in the airline business in recent months, finally hit the industry's top tier. Boeing, the world's biggest planemaker, announced that it would lay off 28,000 workers over the next 18 months -- nearly 20% of its total work force. Meanwhile, British Airways, widely touted as "the world's most profitable airline," did manage to report a profit, but barely. Earnings for the third quarter fell to $28.7 million, a stomach-wrenching 80% drop from a year ago.

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