majors believe that only a best-case scenario will yield a profitable quarter
by the last half of 2003.
to Air Transport Association (ATA) president Carol Hallett, losses are likely
to continue in 2002 and “at best, the airline industry hopes to see a
profitable quarter in the latter part of 2003”. The ATA, which lobbies on
behalf of US majors, has released a “state of the airline industry” report that
offers little hope to US airlines looking for a quick turnaround.
report explains that the 11 September terrorist attacks caused industry
finances, which were already the worst they had been in years, to spiral to
losses that would have exceeded a collective $10 billion for 2001 were it not
for the US government’s $5 billion bailout of airlines. Hallett says the
“challenge ahead” is to “sustain this vital industry through a period of
catastrophic losses and return it to a point of economic stability”.
ATA concludes that returning passengers do not signal a return to
profitability: “Passenger volume should slowly improve, but it will take
significantly longer to return economic viability and vitality to the US
ATA report says airlines need to be prepared to quickly take advantage of an
economic recovery when it occurs. It exhorts all segments of the aviation
industry to work together and warns that the government “must do its part by
meeting its new security requirements … in a manner that invites travelers back
into the air while resisting the urge to raise fees, charges and taxes”.
in New York, a working group of travel organizations known as the Flight Plan
for America Committee launched a campaign to convince Americans to return to
air travel. Fronted by Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell, the group is encouraging
people to fly and advises them to make preparations in advance to lessen the
hassles of the heightened airline security. “A cell phone, bottled water, a
snack, a book and a good sense of humor – these are the tools of smart travel
today,” says Lovell.
group is made up of representatives from Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC),
the American Association of Travel Agents (ASTA), Association of Retail Travel
Agents (ASTA), Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines.