The global airline industry has a reputation for poor performance. But some airlines—including full-service, low-cost and regional carriers—manage to generate substantial economic profit. L.E.K. Consulting’s Aviation Insights Review series pays credit to airlines that have generated attractive returns to shareholders, and identifies the strategies that underpin these top players’ superior performance. In the 2013 Global Industry Performance Update, L.E.K. provides a five-year and 10-year ranking of global airlines through 2012 based on economic profit. Of these top-performers, Thomas singles out Delta Air Lines for engineering what he describes “as one of the most stunning turnarounds in airline history.”

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