The U.S. airline industry is a multibillion dollar industry that carries hundreds of millions of passengers each year, on domestic and international flights. In the early 2000s, soaring oil prices put severe economic pressures on many airlines, forcing some to go out of business and others to merge.
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According to First Research, a service of Hoover's, the U.S. airline industry is made up of about 500 companies, including major airlines such as Delta, American and United, and delivery companies including UPS and Federal Express. The combined annual revenues are about £84 billion for U.S. airlines. In July 2010, U.S. airlines carried about 68.4 million passengers on scheduled domestic and international flights, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
With global oil prices rising sharply, and an economic recession reducing travel expenditures, airlines lost a combined £6.8 billion in 2008 and £5 billion in 2009. Airlines had to reduce the number of routes, raise fares and baggage fees, and some airlines filed for bankruptcy. Delta Airlines purchased Northwest Airlines in 2008.
Following the 2001 U.S. terrorist attacks, which significantly reduced U.S. air travel, Congress approved £9 billion in financial aid and loan guarantees that airlines said were needed to stay in business.
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- First Research: Airlines Industry Profile; September 2010.
- The New York Times: Swings in Price of Oil Hobble Forecasting; Jad Mouawad; July 2009.
- U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics: July 2010 Airline Traffic Data: System Traffic Up 0.4 Percent from July 2009.
- Yahoo! Finance: Airline losses from ash climb over £0.6 billion; Jamey Keaten; April 2010.
- Zacks Investment Research: U.S. Airline Industry Outlook - June 2010.