One of the many strange things about SA Airways’ travails is that, internationally, the trend of airline profits is, well, reaching for the sky.At the start of 2018, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) forecast that net profit for the global industry would rise to $38.4bn in 2018 — up from the record $34.5bn net profit expected in 2017. This was revised downwards in June to $33.4bn. In 2010 global profitability was $10bn and it has risen every year since then.The industry was for decades regarded as a strange example of a business incapable of making a profit.Between 2002 and 2011, the three big legacy airlines in the US — American Airlines, United and Delta — all filed for bankruptcy. All three of them merged with another large carrier — US Airways, Continental and Northwest respectively. The reason given was the high price of fuel.But since then they have avoided major crises, and the trio are by far the most profitable airlines in the world, at least in terms of mo...

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