This first chapter will provide a broad picture of the state of the airline industry at the end of the second decade of the 2000s, but first the degree to which regulation has changed and the degree to which governments distort competition. The latter is discussed in terms of ASAs, subsidies, and taxes. This is followed by airline financial performance and then the factors that have affected that performance.

The focus of this book is the airlines, wherever based and wherever they fly, but with an emphasis on international operations. The share of airline employment in terms of total sector employment of almost 30% gives an idea of the size of the airline industry. This would be larger if outsourced airline services at airports were included.