The latest downturn in the aviation industry has dealt a fatal blow to many of the domestic airlines and has severely wounded many of the remaining survivors. Since the recession began. three major airlines, namely Pan Am. Eastern and Midway have liquidated. TWA, Continental and America West struggle to reorganize and losses for the "healthier" survivors have, and continue to be, substantial. The length and severity of the economic recession are much to blame for the industry's problems, but the Persian Gulf War, higher oil prices and price-cutting by weaker competitors are also at fault. The only way the megacarriers appear to be able to fill their seats is by giving them away at ridiculously low prices. In response to their dismal earnings, airlines have been carefully analyzing their route systems, eliminating or reducing service at those airports with marginal returns and adding flights at those airports with market potential.
At the same time, the U.S. economy is at a standstill. One day the economic indicators show signs of a recovery and the next day a different indicator will show it weakening. This stagnant economy has resulted in discretionary and even business travel being lower than projections made by airports during the booming 1980's.