本人想徵求一篇近期的english newspaper review 及 reflection
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
It's how people act inside an aluminum tube at 30,000 feet. It's about crying babies and oversized people in undersized seats. It's about stressed out flight attendants and passengers who don't think twice about wearing T-shirts with profanities or going barefoot.
But today's subject isn't about any of that.
In the wake of airline industry's prolonged financial funk -- replete with hardship for thousands of workers and millions of travelers -- the U.S. Government Accountability Office sent a report to Capitol Hill last month that tries to sort it all out.
Stay with me here. The GAO doesn't churn out poolside page-turners, but its researchers cut through a lot of the blather to explain how airlines got into this mess and debunk the spin from critics with an agenda. Here are some of its conclusions:
Airlines are a lousy business.
To paraphrase investing legend Warren Buffett, the best thing for the airline industry would have been if Orville had shot Wilbur. The industry has always suffered from structural problems: high fixed costs in aircraft and labor; cyclical demand tied to the whims of the economy and a sensitivity to "external shocks."
Those shocks used to be fluctuating fuel prices. They've recently included wars in the Middle East, terrorism and the SARS epidemic. Finally, competition from low-cost carriers born out of airline deregulation has savaged revenues for older, traditional airlines. As a group, traditional airlines earned a quarterly profit only once since Sept. 11, 2001.
Bankruptcy isn't always a cure.
Experts wrung their hands last month when filings by Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines put about half of the industry's capacity in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Since 1978, 162 airline bankruptcies were filed and, of those, 88 percent no longer exist. Most were tiny carriers that died a quick death. But two dozen of the bankruptcies involved airlines with assets of more than $100-million, and half of them have filed since 2000.
Bankruptcy reorganization lets carriers slash employee wages and jettison inefficient or expensive leased aircraft. But in only about half of the past nine cases did airlines manage to reduce "unit" expenses -- the cost of flying one seat one mile. Costs at US Airways and TWA went up in their first trips through Chapter 11, requiring a second try.
The sick don't hurt the healthy.
This is a line mouthed by CEOs of airlines whose competitors are in bankruptcy. They argue that the law leaves too many airline seats in the market and that keeps fares artificially low.
But history shows that economic recessions, not airline failures, cause the industry to shed seats, the GAO says. And when weak carriers go under, other airlines move in to serve their customers -- sometimes with the same aircraft with new paint jobs.
The report doesn't give any answers on where any particular airline or the whole industry is headed. But you can draw a few conclusions.
Putting money in airline stocks is more like going to the race track than investing. Don't sweat the retreat of any single airline from your hometown. And don't expect this ride to smooth out any time soon.