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A 1980 dip for the airlines

It was not a good year for the companies that fly the friendly skies. According to Airline Executive magazine, early estimates for 1980 show total operating losses for the world's airlines running at about $4.7 billion for the year. Some in the business are calling it the worst year in the history of the industry.

Inflation, recession, haphazard regulations, and sky-high fuel prices, combined with high landing and en route navigation charges, are all cited by Airline Executive as causes of the year's poor returns.

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Carrier revenues worldwide -- excluding the Soviet Union's Aeroflot, which does not report figures -- were up 19 percent from the previous year, reaching about $83.9 billion. These gains, however, were overtaken by sharp rises in expenses, leaving the $4.7 billion shortfall.

The magazine also reports that the carriers suffered in traffic statistics as well, with global passenger traffic rising only 2.1 percent in 1980. (In the 1970s passenger traffic increased an average of 10 percent annually.) A 5 percent increase was originally forecast for 1981. Early returns, however, indicate that even this ma y be too high, and that 1981 could be another flat year.

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