Flying dinosaurs: How long will Europe's national flag carriers persist in uneconomic operation?

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Austria's Finance Minister, Wilhelm Molterer, last week talked of the need to maintain government-owned Austrian Airlines in the colours of the national flag. Silvio Berlusconi has spoken in typically nationalistic terms of keeping an Italian flag flying over the unprofitable anomaly that is Alitalia. How long can it be until these airlines, along with carriers like SAS, with its 50-plus unions and Olympic, which has little prospect of ever making a profit, finally succumb to the realities of the real world?

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