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Airlines Battle Back to Profit, a Fare and a Fee at a Time

October 18, 2011

The same things making many air travelers grumble these days — rising fares with more and more fees, fewer flights, planes filled to the brim — are the things giving airline executives a reason to smile.

After a decade of losing money because of cutthroat competition, slumping traveler demand and volatile fuel prices, the industry has found a way to regain control of its fortunes — and make money — and that is by shelving its 1990s strategy of aggressive growth. Despite the weak economy, most domestic airlines will have their second consecutive profitable year in 2011, after losing $55 billion since 2001.

The one notable exception is American Airlines, which is set to report another quarterly loss on Wednesday. Once the largest airline, American has lost its top perch and is struggling with high costs and debt, and acrimonious labor relations.



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