Various factors are changing the nature of the arena in which decisions affecting the air transportation industry are made. Public concern about the deterioration of the environment is among the chief factors. The responses to, and outcomes of this public pressure are becoming visible. The ability of the existing governmental-industrial relationship to cope with the necessity of reordering both their own and the public's priorities to place the environment on a higher level is being tested and assessed. It will be several years before the capability and willingness of the current system to make the necessary adjustments can be judged. However, enough time has now passed that some preliminary judgments can be made and possibilities foreseen.
The air transportation industry has, in the last twenty-five years, undergone a period of unparalleled expansion. The fact that it is now possible to get from almost anywhere to almost anywhere in a matter of hours has had a great impact on business, governmental, and even social interactions. The technological advances which have made this explosive growth possible are indeed impressive. To many people, however, it is now becoming apparent that the constant deferring to future generations of the social costs of this economic activity and technological advance must stop; and that the subsidization of the air transportation industry, as well as many others, in the currency of social cost must be greatly reduced if not ended.