n this country, the demise of a great airline is sad but not shocking. We've said farewell to Pan Am, Eastern and many others, and we're getting used to the idea that the TWA brand is slowly fading away.

But in Europe, historically, the national airlines have been strong symbols of national pride, cherished as strategic economic engines that contribute to employment, tourism and the national identity.

These trends, and these emotions, have remained strong despite privatization, deregulation, the rise of the EU and the growth of global airline alliances.

And through it all, no nation in Europe has lost an airline that had the global visibility or national symbolism of a Pan Am -- or a Swissair.

For Switzerland and for Europe, this makes Swissair's brush with oblivion all the more shocking.

If such a stunning business failure can happen in Switzerland, government officials throughout Europe are doubtless fearful that "it could happen here."

We are glad that the Swiss government was able to revive Swissair, but we also hope the nations of Europe remain committed to deregulation and the free market so that more overt and intrusive forms of protectionism do not become, once again, a way of life.

• • •


ometimes we overlook the simple and the obvious. Somebody at Choice Hotels woke up the other day with the bright idea of simply saying "thank you" to the customer.

And thus was born a generous gesture and the "Thanks for Traveling" campaign. Choice is offering the slogan and logo to any travel industry company that wants to send a simple message to consumers. Download it from www.thanksfortraveling.com.

Thanks, Choice.

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