- Capital intensiveness
- High fixed costs resulting in excessive operating leverage
- Unpredictable fuel expenses that airlines have little control over (these days 20-30% of an airline's cost structure but spiked to more than 35% in 2008. A $ 10 increase in price per barrel adds ~$ 4.2 to $ 4.7 billion of expenses to US airlines)
- Minimal to no pricing power
- Excessive Debt (financial leverage)
Here's a novel approach being taken by United Airlines according to the Onion.
In its ongoing effort to cut transportation costs and boost profits, United Airlines announced Tuesday that it was exploring the feasibility of herding them into planes and stacking them like cordwood from floor to ceiling.
"After much trial and error, we've found the most efficient way to stack them is to start with a base of large ones, then put down a layer of medium ones, then fill up all the holes with the smaller ones," operations manager Gary Brown said. "The really tiny ones are great for cramming up in the corners."