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A long delay, late night flight home, then a wicked ice storm that knocked out our Internet until yesterday are my excuses for not getting around to posting more about the IAEE show in Miami last week. But now I've slept and the Interweb tubes once again are cleared through my computer, so here goes:

On Thursday I went to a session on the economy, airlines, and the trade show business called "The Perfect Economic Storm." The presenters did a fantastic job of explaining just what is going on—Roger Martin-Fagg with Henley Management College is the first person who explained the banking system in a way that I could really understand, though understanding did not bring a sense of relief, since we're in the dumps for a fairly long haul, according to Martin-Fagg. Could be up to five years before it all shakes out, he said, but it's hard to tell exactly because "We haven't seen events in this combination before."

William Swelbar, a research engineer with MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, summed up that industry with, "Airline companies need to change or die." OK then. Just as banks are going to be contracting, "airlines are going to shrink to greatness," he said. Oh, and expect to see a lot more unbundling and fees as airlines struggle to find ways to actually charge what a seat costs, he added. In fact, "The rise in the price of fuel to $187 per barrell was the best thing for this industry because it forced them to do what they've needed to do for the past 30 years," Swelbar said. Look for more consolidation, even in regional and low-cost airlines here in the U.S., and internationally.

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