IN THE LATE 1990S, THE AIRLINE industry was making big profits, traffic was rising, manufacturer assembly lines were humming and Airbus and Boeing were locked in a battle trying to sell their proposed giant people-movers, the A3XX and 747X. The future of commercial aviation was clear to everyone: More people flying more places at steeper and steeper discounts. Clear to everyone, that is, except the world's largest international airline at the time, which bucked the trend and turned its back ...

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