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Airlines: Overview


(CNN) -- Europe's traditional flag-carriers -- so-called because they are a sign of country's industrial development, the pride of governments and nation -- are under threat from a bunch of upstarts.

Ryanair and rival easyJet are snapping up customers with lower fares and frequent flights to destinations across Europe. British Airways, Europe's biggest airline by passenger numbers, has suffered -- and fought back by lowering fares for European flights. Meanwhile, Lufthansa's skies have gotten busier.

EasyJet has an option to buy Deutsche BA, British Airways' German airline, which it would transform into a low-cost carrier.

British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa have seen passenger numbers decline following a global economic slowdown and the September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

There are signs passengers are returning, albeit slowly. But convention wisdom says the 20 or so airlines in Europe need to consolidate -- or more could fly into bankruptcy like Sabena and Swissair.

Click on the links to learn more about each airline

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