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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Air passenger numbers rebound
Regional Express aircraft
Many small airlines have done well in the last year
The global lust for air travel has returned, according to a report from the Official Airline Guide.

Passenger numbers have bounced back to just 4% below levels seen soon ahead of the 11 September attacks on the US, the guide said.

Passenger numbers slipped sharply in the wake of the attacks with some airlines seeing their bookings reduced by up to 25% or 30%.

The industry's recovery hides some fundamental shifts that have taken place since last autumn.

Different responses

Low cost airlines responded to air passengers' confidence crisis by tempting them back onboard with extremely cheap offers.

Meanwhile, some of the industry's traditional leaders pulled back, cut costs, sacked staff and raised prices.

The result was a dramatic shift in the balance between the no-frills carriers and their larger counterparts.

After a few months, many low cost carriers had, in some cases, pushed national airlines out of the top spots in terms of both profitability and passenger numbers.

Airlines whose business depended heavily on routes across the Atlantic were hit the hardest, and passenger numbers on these routes remain low.

UK shrug it off

In terms of nationality, US airlines suffered the most.

Not all domestic markets saw passenger numbers fall.

In the UK, the number of domestic flights taken has actually risen since September last year.

International flights to and from the UK carry just 2% fewer passengers than they did ahead of the attacks.

See also:

09 Aug 02 | Business
02 Aug 02 | Business
05 Jul 02 | Business
11 Jun 02 | Business
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