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Airline Trade Group: The Business Of Flying Is Tough

For airlines, it ain't easy making a buck. In fact, even a penny is out of reach.

Airlines for America, a trade association for major U.S. carriers, says the industry earned less than half a penny in profits for every $1 of revenue generated during 2011.

The poor financial performance wasn't a fluke. Over the past decade, airlines have lost a collective $50 billion.

On Tuesday, the trade group said something has got to change. Association CEO Nicholas Calio sat down with journalists to explain a new industry push for a "National Airline Policy."

He laid out a five-point plan that would: lower taxes; reduce regulations; remove limits on foreign investments; upgrade aviation infrastructure and reduce oil price speculation.

Now the hard part: getting Congress to act.

Calio said that over recent decades, Congress and the White House generally have had a policy amounting to "neglect" of airlines. As a result, "we have been, frankly, withering," he said.

The association already has presented a 59-page version of its 5-point agenda to the Department of Transportation, and is starting to work with key members of Congress to advance the legislation necessary to implement an aviation-revival plan.

In an election year, it may be especially difficult to get Congress' attention. But Calio said industry executives and workers know that. "It's a tough process, but it's got to be started now," he says.

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