An olive. Who could suppose such an unassuming component of a salad, or rather its absence, could bring tens of thousands of dollars a year in cost-savings to a big multinational? The olive relates to a story of near-mythical proportions that continues to haunt the airline industry.In the 1980s, American Airlines' firebrand chairman Robert L Crandall encouraged staff to come up with simple cost-savings ideas. In 1987, two flight attendants working in first-class put forward a suggestion. They had noticed that passengers were leaving one of the two olives that garnished their mealtime salad. Why not serve the food with just one olive, they asked? 'A great idea,' said the boss, who immediately implemented the wheeze. It saved American Airlines a whopping $40,000 a year.