Thus the last 50 years of the airline industry have varied from reasonably profitable, to devastatingly depressed. As the first major market to deregulate the industry in 1978, U.S. airlines have experienced more turbulence than almost any other country or region. In fact, no U.S. legacy carrier survived bankruptcy-free. Among the outspoken critics of deregulation, former CEO of American Airlines, Robert Crandall has publicly stated:
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In 2017, 4.1 billion passengers have been carried by airlines in 41.9 million commercial scheduled flights (an average payload of 98 passengers), for 7.75 trillion passenger kilometres (an average trip of 1890 km) over 45,091 airline routes served globally. In 2016, air transport generated $704.4 billion of revenue in 2016, employed 10.2 million workers, supported 65.5 million jobs and $2.7 trillion of economic activity: 3.6% of the global GDP.[60]

Computers also allow airlines to predict, with some accuracy, how many passengers will actually fly after making a reservation to fly. This allows airlines to overbook their flights enough to fill the aircraft while accounting for "no-shows", but not enough (in most cases) to force paying passengers off the aircraft for lack of seats, stimulative pricing for low demand flights coupled with overbooking on high demand flights can help reduce this figure. This is especially crucial during tough economic times as airlines undertake massive cuts to ticket prices to retain demand.[65]

The United States, Australia, and to a lesser extent Brazil, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, and Japan have "deregulated" their airlines. In the past, these governments dictated airfares, route networks, and other operational requirements for each airline. Since deregulation, airlines have been largely free to negotiate their own operating arrangements with different airports, enter and exit routes easily, and to levy airfares and supply flights according to market demand. The entry barriers for new airlines are lower in a deregulated market, and so the U.S. has seen hundreds of airlines start up (sometimes for only a brief operating period). This has produced far greater competition than before deregulation in most markets. The added competition, together with pricing freedom, means that new entrants often take market share with highly reduced rates that, to a limited degree, full service airlines must match. This is a major constraint on profitability for established carriers, which tend to have a higher cost base.

Hawaiian began acquiring Boeing 717 aircraft for operation on the Neighbor Island network in February 2001.[67] On June 4, 2008, the airline announced that it had agreed to lease an additional four 717 airplanes to meet demand due to the shutdown of Aloha Airlines' passenger operations and the closing of ATA Airlines, with deliveries between September and the end of 2008.[68]

The next big boost for the airlines would come in the 1970s, when the Boeing 747, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and Lockheed L-1011 inaugurated widebody ("jumbo jet") service, which is still the standard in international travel.[35] The Tupolev Tu-144 and its Western counterpart, Concorde, made supersonic travel a reality.[36] Concorde first flew in 1969 and operated through 2003. In 1972, Airbus began producing Europe's most commercially successful line of airliners to date. The added efficiencies for these aircraft were often not in speed, but in passenger capacity, payload, and range. Airbus also features modern electronic cockpits that were common across their aircraft to enable pilots to fly multiple models with minimal cross-training.
Although Germany lacked colonies, it also began expanding its services globally. In 1931, the airship Graf Zeppelin began offering regular scheduled passenger service between Germany and South America, usually every two weeks, which continued until 1937.[17] In 1936, the airship Hindenburg entered passenger service and successfully crossed the Atlantic 36 times before crashing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937.[18] In 1938, a weekly air service from Berlin to Kabul, Afghanistan, started operating.[19]
In 1926, Alan Cobham surveyed a flight route from the UK to Cape Town, South Africa, following this up with another proving flight to Melbourne, Australia. Other routes to British India and the Far East were also charted and demonstrated at this time. Regular services to Cairo and Basra began in 1927 and were extended to Karachi in 1929. The London-Australia service was inaugurated in 1932 with the Handley Page HP 42 airliners. Further services were opened up to Calcutta, Rangoon, Singapore, Brisbane and Hong Kong passengers departed London on 14 March 1936 following the establishment of a branch from Penang to Hong Kong.
Following the 1978 deregulation, U.S. carriers did not manage to make an aggregate profit for 12 years in 31, including four years where combined losses amounted to $10 billion, but rebounded with eight consecutive years of profits since 2010, including its four with over $10 billion profits. They drop loss-making routes, avoid fare wars and market share battles, limit capacity growth, add hub feed with regional jets to increase their profitability. They change schedules to create more connections, buy used aircraft, reduce international frequencies and leverage partnerships to optimise capacities and benefit from overseas connectivity.[51]
Starting December 1, 2017, guests in the main cabin on Hawaiian flights between Hawaiʻi and Western U.S. gateway cities will be treated to complimentary meal service exclusively created for the airline’s new Pau Hāna Café brand. The Pau Hāna Café, branded meals made exclusively for the airline, consists of a continental breakfast box for brunch and hot sandwich and side for lunch. Pau Hāna, a Hawaiian term for “finished work,” is a time to relax and unwind after a long workday.[97] The meal service will be followed by coffee and a sweet treat for dessert. A parting Mahalo service features the carrier’s popular Kōloa Breeze cocktail, featuring Kōloa Rum from the Island of Kauaʻi, and the airline's signature Pau Hāna snack mix.
ʻOhana by Hawaiian is a regional subsidiary carrier of Hawaiian Airlines. The service is operated using three ATR 42 turboprop airplanes owned by Hawaiian and operated under contract by Empire Airlines. The new service was slated to begin in summer 2013 initially flying to Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, however the airline was unable to begin during that period due to Federal Aviation Administration delays in certifying ʻOhana's operation.[56] ʻOhana by Hawaiian is fully integrated into the Hawaiian Airlines network.[44]