In 2017, 4.1 billion passengers have been carried by airlines in 41.9 million commercial scheduled flights (an average payload of 98 passengers), for 7.75 trillion passenger kilometres (an average trip of 1890 km) over 45,091 airline routes served globally. In 2016, air transport generated $704.4 billion of revenue in 2016, employed 10.2 million workers, supported 65.5 million jobs and $2.7 trillion of economic activity: 3.6% of the global GDP.
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Following the 1978 deregulation, U.S. carriers did not manage to make an aggregate profit for 12 years in 31, including four years where combined losses amounted to $10 billion, but rebounded with eight consecutive years of profits since 2010, including its four with over $10 billion profits. They drop loss-making routes, avoid fare wars and market share battles, limit capacity growth, add hub feed with regional jets to increase their profitability. They change schedules to create more connections, buy used aircraft, reduce international frequencies and leverage partnerships to optimise capacities and benefit from overseas connectivity.
Major airlines dominated their routes through aggressive pricing and additional capacity offerings, often swamping new start-ups. In the place of high barriers to entry imposed by regulation, the major airlines implemented an equally high barrier called loss leader pricing. In this strategy an already established and dominant airline stomps out its competition by lowering airfares on specific routes, below the cost of operating on it, choking out any chance a start-up airline may have. The industry side effect is an overall drop in revenue and service quality. Since deregulation in 1978 the average domestic ticket price has dropped by 40%. So has airline employee pay. By incurring massive losses, the airlines of the USA now rely upon a scourge of cyclical Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to continue doing business. America West Airlines (which has since merged with US Airways) remained a significant survivor from this new entrant era, as dozens, even hundreds, have gone under.