Airline execs see rebound of business travel, possible industry recovery

Airline executives speaking Tuesday at the Merrill Lynch Global Transportation Conference in New York sounded generally optimistic that the industry will see a sustained recovery as business travel improves and carriers maintain capacity discipline. "Corporate revenues are driving a considerable amount of the improvement," said Delta Air Lines President Ed Bastian, while American Airlines CEO Gerard Arpey said he sees "corporations beginning to allow their employees to travel in the premium cabins." Several airlines said they expect to see strong, double-digit increases in revenue per available seat mile for the current quarter. Still, with fuel prices "substantially higher," executives said they are in no rush to add capacity.

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