‘Airline’ flying for A&E

Reality skein is cabler's highest-rated

NEW YORK — In the second-season premiere of A&E’s “Airline,” back-to-back half-hour episodes boarded 1.7 million total viewers, the best numbers racked up by the reality show.

“Airline,” which bowed in January, has become the highest-rated series on A&E, and one of the hottest shows on basic cable.

The mix of comedy and drama set mainly at Los Angeles Intl. Airport pulled 1.1 million adults 25-54 Monday, making it the youngest-skewing series on A&E. An all-day marathon of the first season’s 13 half-hours preceding the second-season kickoff averaged 535,000 adults 25-54, A&E’s target demographic.

On Tuesday, ESPN chalked up 1.5 million households for the first two hourlong primetime episodes of “The 2004 World Series of Poker,” starting at 9. The 10 o’clock hour ended with “Poker” flush in 1.654 million homes, more viewers than any other poker cablecast on ESPN except the final episode of last year’s “2003 World Series of Poker.”

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