Will America’s air carriers ever regain their lost glory and profitability? Experts offer a resounding “Maybe

Commercial air travel made the time-worn fantasy of a magic carpet ride seem lame by comparison. A packed airliner bound from Los Angeles to Honolulu might carry a business traveler heading for Taipei, a vacationer escaping to Molokai and a backpacker journeying to Katmandu. With only an air ticket, lovers were reunited, students made it home for the holidays, kids traversed a continent to meet their grandparents and soldiers returned Stateside from the battlefield.

Then came COVID-19.

Now, masked passengers stretch out in nearly empty cabins, cavernous terminals feel deserted and solitary travelers look lonely in...

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