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Low-cost rivals, emissions schemes, labor issues, and threats from Gulf carriers are enough to make observers look positively at the relatively rosy situation of U.S. counterparts.

Over the last decade, Europe’s big three airline groups, IAG (owner of British Airways/Iberia), Air France/KLM, and Lufthansa Group, have all been in much better shape than their American counterparts. While US airlines floundered and filed for bankruptcy, they grew and became stronger. But now, the tables are turned as a variety of different things are conspiring to make life very difficult for the European legacies.

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