Washington — Soaring fuel costs offset a 12 percent traffic gain in 1979 and led to an $ 800 million decline in airline earnings -- the sharpest one-year drop in the industry's history, the Air Transport Association reports. Fuel costs in 1979 rose 100 percent, from 40 cents to 80 cents a gallon.
Since 1973, airlines have improved their fuel efficiency 43 percent, but fuel costs have rocketed 667 percent.
The $6.5 billion airline industry fuel bill in 1979 was up $2.5 billion over 1978. The bill is expected to hit $10 billion in 1980.