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  #1  
Old October 31st, 2008, 01:16 AM
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Exclamation Airfare Bargains

I've been seeing mention more and more often of some remarkable airfares this fall. West Coast for $220. Newark for $450. I didn't believe it until I really started looking... and ended up booking a round-trip for my wife from Honolulu to Orlando for $405. (About $470 after taxes and fees.) Incredible!

We're always watching HNL-MCO flights, and are used to seeing $1,200 fares. And we recently traveled from HNL-SAN for Comic Con, paying over $800 round trip. To think you can get to the East Coast for half what it cost to get to Southern California is just mind boggling.

For what it's worth, we found the fare on Travelocity, but they're popping up all over. Sign up for alerts and read travel blogs, as I imagine there are more! Can't be good for the airlines... and probably a precursor to cutting routes... but for now, it's a great deal for travelers.
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  #2  
Old October 31st, 2008, 02:58 AM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

I am a big advocator of airfarewatchdog.com You can sign up with them and give them your home airport, and they'll e-mail you at your preferred frequency with the lowest fares out of that area. You can even set a home airport and destination (say, Honolulu to Ohio) and they'll e-mail you when that reaches a low price. I don't work there or anything, but I've found some really great deals through them.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

Ouch. Reading of these low air fares hurts, as I paid (including all taxes) $917 for a November departure PVD-HNL round trip, which connects through EWR, last March. I don't figure this air fare would be much more than $450 EWR-PVD R/T I've read pzarquon mention, though I sort of doubt this example of the extreme low air fare would be available for the semi-premium dates I have booked.

I guess I can console myself with the facts that since I bought the ticket in March, I get two checked bags for free (CO started charging for Bag #1 after I bought the ticket) and I've got one of the best seats available on both flights going out and back...a coveted bulkhead aisle seat with extra leg room and no reclined seat in my face, in row 31 on CO's 767-400 service on the EWR-HNL route. But that's about it. Shoots, for $450 R/T, I'd sit in a center seat now.

With these low fares, I wonder if I can get CO to make a change in the date of my departure from HNL in December. I wanted to change it by one day, but at the time of my request, they wanted $100 change fee plus the difference in what I paid for the ticket and what it was selling for at the time of my request; all told they wanted $250 to change it. No way I told them. I guess it can't hurt to check.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

These low airfares are not good for the airlines or for the consumer. The airlines are not making money. Enjoy the low fares now because you are going to pay for it later. Low airfares are very much like the low interest rates on homes five years ago. The airline bubble is about to burst! Fares should be about 3 times the current fares in order for the airlines to earn a reasonable 5% return on investment. What this means for the future is much higher fares, reduced flights, fewer choices, more incidental fees, and government bailouts (taxpayer funded) for the airline industry. The government needs to step in and REGULATE the airline industry as it did many years ago. One of the regulations should be establishment of minimum fares so that the airlines can make a profit. An airline that makes a reasonable profit is good for the consumer.

Disclaimer: my oldest works in management for a major international airline (one that doesn't fly to Hawai'i). Although she is not highly paid, all management is being asked to take a paycut to help keep the airline solvent for the time being.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Wink Re: Airfare Bargains

As I said in my initial post, these prices can't be good for the airlines, and probably mean routes will be cut in the long term if airlines continue to struggle to fill planes... but it's great for travelers right now.

Everyone knew the $19 interisland fares weren't going to be around long, too, and eventually Aloha failed, but you bet your sweet bippy more people were able to take interisland trips than ever before during that period.

Do things get worse in the long term, with fewer flights, airlines, and higher fares? Probably. Want to advocate for regulation? Go for it. But consumers don't set these unrealistic prices, and they'd be crazy not to take advantage of them.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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Originally Posted by pzarquon View Post
But consumers don't set these unrealistic prices,.
Yes and no. Consumer demand does dictate pricing. On the other hand, the TEMPORARY lower cost of oil and the need of some airlines for immediate cash to pay bills (because of the current lack of available credit) also result in lower prices.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

The airlines shoot themselves in the foot by nickel and diming passengers so much that taking a flight feels like going to jail, then they discover they need to slash prices to lure back 'leisure' passengers so that flights can be filled. I find it very difficult to commiserate with irrational, manic-depressive behavior.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 02:08 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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The airlines shoot themselves in the foot by nickel and diming passengers so much
Great, then you agree with me that the airlines should triple their prices in order to make a profit?

Quote:
then they discover they need to slash prices to lure back 'leisure' passengers so that flights can be filled.
I guess you didn't read all of my post. The temporary reduction in prices on some airlines is a result of temporay lower oil prices and the need for some airlines to generate cash immediately to stay solvent.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 02:26 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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Originally Posted by matapule View Post
These low airfares are not good for the airlines or for the consumer. The airlines are not making money. Enjoy the low fares now because you are going to pay for it later. Low airfares are very much like the low interest rates on homes five years ago. The airline bubble is about to burst! Fares should be about 3 times the current fares in order for the airlines to earn a reasonable 5% return on investment. What this means for the future is much higher fares, reduced flights, fewer choices, more incidental fees, and government bailouts (taxpayer funded) for the airline industry. The government needs to step in and REGULATE the airline industry as it did many years ago. One of the regulations should be establishment of minimum fares so that the airlines can make a profit. An airline that makes a reasonable profit is good for the consumer.

Disclaimer: my oldest works in management for a major international airline (one that doesn't fly to Hawai'i). Although she is not highly paid, all management is being asked to take a paycut to help keep the airline solvent for the time being.
I don't believe gov't regulation of prices is the way to go. Rather, tougher laws on illegal pricing (maybe time limit on promotions) and laws on allowing parent company to subsidize subsidiary from other streams of revenue. Remember, gov't deregulation permitted airlines like Southwest to start and to grow and thrive.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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Great, then you agree with me that the airlines should triple their prices in order to make a profit?

I guess you didn't read all of my post. The temporary reduction in prices on some airlines is a result of temporary lower oil prices and the need for some airlines to generate cash immediately to stay solvent.
No.

I read your post, I just don't believe you understand why we are seeing low ticket prices.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 03:11 PM
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Remember, gov't deregulation permitted airlines like Southwest to start and to grow and thrive.
Not exactly. Southwest established a foothold in the marketplace because of a very astute CEO - can't remember his name and don't want to look it up. His marketing plan was brilliant; - eliminate frills and convenience (no pre-assigned seats and no sales through travel agents). But the thing that made them profitable at lower fares is that he had the foresight to purchase fuel futures on contract at predetermined prices. As fuel prices went up, and other airlines paid more for fuel, Southwest was able to continue to purchase fuel at lower prices on contract and undersell everyone. Those contracts have now expired and Southwest Airline is now faced with the same problems as all the other airlines......aging aircraft, aggressive labor unions, rising fuel costs, and limited cash liquidity.

I fear that the airlines are going to be asking for part of that $700B bailout package unless they have the courage to raise fares. But then that begs the question, should taxpayers subsidize low fares for consumers who refuse to pay a fair rate so that an airline can be profitable? I like to travel by air as much as anyone else, so the future will be interesting.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

I've been sitting on some tickets for my husband, baby and I for xmas to Bakersfield or Fresno - they're sitting at $660 each and have been for the last week. Two weeks ago, they were $850. I just keep holding my reservation hoping it'll drop below $600 (non xmas flights are about $550). The flights (via United) to and from lax/sfo are very empty atm
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Old October 31st, 2008, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by matapule View Post
Not exactly. Southwest established a foothold in the marketplace because of a very astute CEO - can't remember his name and don't want to look it up. His marketing plan was brilliant; - eliminate frills and convenience (no pre-assigned seats and no sales through travel agents). But the thing that made them profitable at lower fares is that he had the foresight to purchase fuel futures on contract at predetermined prices. As fuel prices went up, and other airlines paid more for fuel, Southwest was able to continue to purchase fuel at lower prices on contract and undersell everyone. Those contracts have now expired and Southwest Airline is now faced with the same problems as all the other airlines......aging aircraft, aggressive labor unions, rising fuel costs, and limited cash liquidity.

I fear that the airlines are going to be asking for part of that $700B bailout package unless they have the courage to raise fares. But then that begs the question, should taxpayers subsidize low fares for consumers who refuse to pay a fair rate so that an airline can be profitable? I like to travel by air as much as anyone else, so the future will be interesting.
Before deregulation, airlines required permission to serve any given route and incumbents could raise many obstacles to the granting of permission. Southwest itself had to go through that mettle. So you believe this is a good idea?

An example is the US - Australia route, heavily regulated. Ever notice there is only a handful of players in that market? Singapore Airlines offers superior service for competitive prices but they keep getting barred by Australia, no doubt for the sake of Qantas. So this is a good thing?

I'm all for laws that makes the field level but I really don't wish to see gov't dictate prices, schedules, routes. Let the market resolve that itself. You think we don't pay enough for out flights, that isn't the issue. The real issue is upper management always taking almost the entire pie and leaving little for the rest. That's why airlines are always in the red. Do you really believe it's healthy when an airline goes under and the CEO still gets a package?
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Old October 31st, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Before deregulation, airlines required permission to serve any given route and incumbents could raise many obstacles to the granting of permission. Southwest itself had to go through that mettle. So you believe this is a good idea?
Yes I do. If a particular route is "over serviced" the consumer benefits in the short term, but loses in the long run when no one airline can be profitable.

Quote:
An example is the US - Australia route, heavily regulated. Ever notice there is only a handful of players in that market? Singapore Airlines offers superior service for competitive prices but they keep getting barred by Australia, no doubt for the sake of Qantas. So this is a good thing?
Unfortunately yes. I do not know what Singapore Airlines business model is. But if one airline has an advantage over another because of fewer requirements within their country of incorporation (for example no labor contract, lower cost of fuel because of local supply, etc) then regulation provides for more competition, not less.

Quote:
I'm all for laws that makes the field level but I really don't wish to see gov't dictate prices, schedules, routes. Let the market resolve that itself.
You have just made the argument that got us into the Wall Street mess. If the market is allowed to regulate itself, it results in chaos and acts contrary to the best interests of the consumer.

Quote:
You think we don't pay enough for out flights, that isn't the issue. The real issue is upper management always taking almost the entire pie and leaving little for the rest. That's why airlines are always in the red. Do you really believe it's healthy when an airline goes under and the CEO still gets a package?
Can you provide me with a link to that assertion? I don't know of any airline CEO that is making $25M annually like some Wall Street executives. My daughter is in mid-management and supervises about 300 to 400 employees in 10 different cities, 95% of which work on a union contract. She makes less than the top 20% of union employees that she is supervising. Something is terribly wrong when a union member forklift driver is making close to $100K per year for working about 35 hours per week. That is why most airlines are trying to eliminate the unions and contract to private vendors on the lowest cost, contract basis.

JT, you are basing your presumptions on 'a priori' convictions that simply do not hold water. I firmly believe that some regulation of the airline industry by governement is necessary. I believe that executive pay should be performance based- the better their company does, the greater their compensation. I also believe that windfall profits should be taxed heavily in all industries (the US oil compaines are now announcing monster third quarter profits) including the airlines unless put back into research and development rather than taken as excess profits.

Shrinking airlines and unrealistically low fares are not good for the consumer in the long run.
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Last edited by helen; October 31st, 2008 at 06:37 PM. Reason: fixing the quote tag
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Old October 31st, 2008, 05:56 PM
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I've been sitting on some tickets for my husband, baby and I for xmas to Bakersfield or Fresno - Two weeks ago, they were $850.
Ahhhhh, Fresno, know the place well. Love their designation: FAT.

I read a study recently (don't remember where but it wasn't on the Internet, maybe WSJ) that an airline needs to get close to $1000 per ticket in coach on the California to Hawai'i run at 80% load in order to make a 5% profit on the trip. Nobody wants to see those kinds of fares since we have been spoiled for so long, but I fear they are coming.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

Yeah, and I just heard of a study that says Oahu will see a 25% reduction of rush hour traffic when we have rail transit, even though no other U.S. city has seen even a 10% reduction. Do I believe it? Of course not and neither should you.

If your airline wants to make a profit, I suggest they don't fly at 80% of capacity.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 09:12 PM
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If your airline wants to make a profit, I suggest they don't fly at 80% of capacity.
Yes, they try to fly at 100% load. But MORE than 20% of passengers are "no shows" on average. And for good reason, people get sick, they have a change of plans, they don't allow enough time and get caught in traffic, whatever. That's why airlines "oversell" their bookings. Sometimes everyone shows up and they have have to give incentives to people to take a different flight. Now, do you Salmoned, propose that the airlines should not allow people to change plans? Great, then airlines could fly closer to 100% capacity. You book a ticket and don't show up, then tough sh1t, you pay anyway. But I think you, Salmoned, would get a big argument from most flyers and the go'mint.

You, Salmoned, are putting airtlines in a "lose/lose" scenario. No matter what they do, you are not going to be happy. Low airfares are bad for consumers in the long term.
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Old October 31st, 2008, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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Yes I do. If a particular route is "over serviced" the consumer benefits in the short term, but loses in the long run when no one airline can be profitable.
So would you agree to no bailouts to GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Because the US auto market is saturated with the number of brands and models.

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Originally Posted by matapule View Post
Unfortunately yes. I do not know what Singapore Airlines business model is. But if one airline has an advantage over another because of fewer requirements within their country of incorporation (for example no labor contract, lower cost of fuel because of local supply, etc) then regulation provides for more competition, not less.
What about within one country?


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You have just made the argument that got us into the Wall Street mess. If the market is allowed to regulate itself, it results in chaos and acts contrary to the best interests of the consumer.
Negative, I think in your zest to support gov't regulation, you've overlooked what I said. I did not say the industry itself issues laws for regulation. I said the gov't role should be on making laws to keep the field level, ie. stronger laws against predatory pricing, subsidizing a subsidiary, etc. But a gov't role should not be on schedules, pricing, routes.


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Originally Posted by matapule View Post
Can you provide me with a link to that assertion? I don't know of any airline CEO that is making $25M annually like some Wall Street executives. My daughter is in mid-management and supervises about 300 to 400 employees in 10 different cities, 95% of which work on a union contract. She makes less than the top 20% of union employees that she is supervising. Something is terribly wrong when a union member forklift driver is making close to $100K per year for working about 35 hours per week. That is why most airlines are trying to eliminate the unions and contract to private vendors on the lowest cost, contract basis.
UAL's Glenn Tilton received $39.7 million in 2006 while UAL only made a profit of $25 million for that year. At the same time, flight attendants took cuts.

http://financialservices.house.gov/p...ACWALetter.pdf
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Old October 31st, 2008, 10:40 PM
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So would you agree to no bailouts to GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Because the US auto market is saturated with the number of brands and models.
Yes,I oppose bailouts to the automakers. Not because the market is saturated with brands and models. I am opposed because of mismanagement. The automakers were producing short sighted models like the Hummer and Escalade at a time they should have been concentrating on new alternative energy models such as hybrids and electrics. I do not want to reward the auto executives with a bailout so they can continue to mismanage. Throw all the scoundrels out! America can and should be the leader in alternative energy automobiles.

Quote:
What about within one country?
Even moreso within a country, specifically the USA.

Quote:
Negative, I think in your zest to support gov't regulation, you've overlooked what I said. I did not say the industry itself issues laws for regulation. I said the gov't role should be on making laws to keep the field level, ie. stronger laws against predatory pricing, subsidizing a subsidiary, etc. But a gov't role should not be on schedules, pricing, routes.
I repeat, I favor regulation of schedules, pricing, and routes with oversight on executive pay and windfall profits.

Quote:
UAL's Glenn Tilton received $39.7 million in 2006 while UAL only made a profit of $25 million for that year. At the same time, flight attendants took cuts.
Thank you for that reference, but you have merely referenced the talking points of the Union. Are you a union member? To set the record straight, I am a former shop steward in CSEA (California State Employees Association), so I can speak with familiarity from within a union. The reference you cite is selfserving by the Teamsters. Tilton did receive stock options equal to $39.7M as a result of pulling the company out of bankruptcy. I find this deplorable! However, I think he deserved a bonus, but if the company goes under, so will his $39.7M stock options. So the reward/bonus is theoretical at this time.

In actuallity, Tilton received $1.4M in actual compenrsation in 2007. For the record, my daughter does not work for UAL.

Unreasonable low airfares are not in the best interests of the consumer in the long term.
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Old November 1st, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Default Re: Airfare Bargains

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Thank you for that reference, but you have merely referenced the talking points of the Union. Are you a union member? To set the record straight, I am a former shop steward in CSEA (California State Employees Association), so I can speak with familiarity from within a union. The reference you cite is selfserving by the Teamsters. Tilton did receive stock options equal to $39.7M as a result of pulling the company out of bankruptcy. I find this deplorable! However, I think he deserved a bonus, but if the company goes under, so will his $39.7M stock options. So the reward/bonus is theoretical at this time.
Matapule,

I am not a union member. Never have been. I understand the historical need for unions but I believe they are more of a hindrance than help in modern times due to selfserving union leadership.

I provided a link as you've requested, I am not putting any pro-union spin on it. But the fact remains, UA's CEO got paid megabucks in 2006 when the company just got out of bankruptcy and the rank and file made huge concessions. I hardly agree that's a "success" worth rewarding. That is merely doing one's job as leader to guide the company out of bankruptcy. I do believe in performance pay, but the executive packages have gotten ridiculous over the years and they do have an impact on the bottom line.

You and I believe in gov't regulation on airlines but we differ on what. I don't believe it should be on schedules, routes, prices; but more on market fundamentals, subsidizing from parent company to subsidary, limits on executive compensation, etc. International routes, I can see the need for tighter regulation due to different standards of living between countries, but not within one country. If an airline can provide $50 interisland fares and make a profit, I don't want big brother preventing that with regulation.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 02:02 PM
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Yes, they try to fly at 100% load. But MORE than 20% of passengers are "no shows" on average. And for good reason, people get sick, they have a change of plans, they don't allow enough time and get caught in traffic, whatever. That's why airlines "oversell" their bookings. Sometimes everyone shows up and they have have to give incentives to people to take a different flight. Now, do you Salmoned, propose that the airlines should not allow people to change plans? Great, then airlines could fly closer to 100% capacity. You book a ticket and don't show up, then tough sh1t, you pay anyway. But I think you, Salmoned, would get a big argument from most flyers and the go'mint.

You, Salmoned, are putting airtlines in a "lose/lose" scenario. No matter what they do, you are not going to be happy. Low airfares are bad for consumers in the long term.
You're just talking nonsense. If I change my flight plans I either sacrifice my ticket or pay hefty rescheduling fees (usually equivalent to sacrificing the ticket) - the option to change flights is built into the ticket price via restricted vs. unrestricted fares. I clearly remember when I flew from Honolulu at less than 80% capacity - right after 9/11. Since (and before) then it's been hard to find an empty seat AT ALL, but then again, I always fly on the cheapest available fares (and they always have severe restrictions regarding rescheduling/cancellation).

In the long run, we're all dead. So worrying about the long term viability for airlines is well beyond my concern and should be beyond your concern as well. If airlines abandon Honolulu en masse, then we might have something to worry about. Until then, worrying about airline profitability is an exercise in futility for all but the airlines themselves.
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Last edited by salmoned; November 3rd, 2008 at 02:11 PM.
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