Systems, Stability, and Airlines

One of the more perversely fascinating characteristics of complex systems is how stable they can seem, until they are not. Case in point: The global airline industry. A tightly coupled system with high fixed costs, it operates on seasonal, oscillating plateaus, ones that make it seem weirdly disconnected from changes in the broader economy. Suddenly, however, it hits break points, when rather than seeing a slight decline in traffic, we see large declines. I’m expecting just such a break point in the next ten days.

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