Best Business Commentary
February 15, 2008
U.S. airlines circle their wagons
Consolidation among the U.S. airlines is “finally on the horizon,” says Dean Foust in BusinessWeek.com. First to the altar, “barring the unexpected,” will be Delta and Northwest, but other mergers can’t be far behind. The high price of oil is the “immediate pressure driving these pacts,” but lurking European airlines pose a threat just “as onerous as $90-per-barrel oil.” Not only are the Europeans poised to poach the “lucrative transatlantic routes,” one of the few “big profit centers” for U.S. carriers, but they also want to “buy controlling stakes in the enfeebled U.S. airlines” themselves. Can they? The only thing blocking the runway is politicians.
The end of the coal rush
“Dozens of new coal plants are on drawing boards” across the U.S., awaiting construction, says the Houston Chronicle in an editorial. Unfortunately, the “cheap coal they are premised on” is “going the way of inexpensive oil and gas.” And for the same reason: an “insatiable appetite in the exploding Chinese economy.” Because coal was cheap and the U.S. has “extensive deposits” of it, coal-powered plants used to make sense, to a point. But coal was always “by far the dirtiest of the fossil fuels,” and now that it’s expensive, too, we have a good opening to make a “massive” investment in “renewable and clean energy generation” to escape its “tightening vise.”
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