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Aviation: The 9/11, COVID-19 Impact

By Arindam Majumder
September 21, 2021 09:50 IST
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In order to gauge the financial impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, comparing it to what happened after the 9/11 terrorist attack is a helpful yardstick.
Arindam Majumder reports.

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes.
 

An audacious terrorist attack and a global pandemic.

Nothing has impacted the aviation industry worldwide the way these two events, occurring nearly two decades apart, have.

In late 2001, after the Twin Towers fell, the aviation industry experienced many of the problems it is seeing now.

Airlines bled. Their survival was threatened. Governments stepped in with financial support, as they are doing today.

Airline executives said that while 9/11 was an existential crisis for the industry, with new security in place, passenger confidence returned.

With COVID-19, that's a difference as a recurring threat of infection forces governments across the world to shut borders, which reverses any recovery.

Similar to 9/11, the fear of flying has also hit business travel the hardest and it is expected to return the last -- and only after a revival of leisure travel.

Not only did business trips take four years to return to pre-crisis levels after the attacks on the World Trade Center, but they also had not yet recovered to pre-financial crisis levels when COVID-19 broke out in late 2019-early 2020.

So, as the pandemic subsides, the rise in leisure trips is expected to outpace the recovery of business travel.

Globally, airline operating revenues declined from $328.5 billion in 2000 to $307.5 billion in 2001 and $306 billion in 2002.

Revenues did not exceed 2000 levels until 2004 ($378.8 billion).

In order to gauge the financial impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, comparing it to what happened after the 9/11 terrorist attack is a helpful yardstick.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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Arindam Majumder
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