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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 18:58 GMT
Post-attack airline slump confirmed
A check-in at Heathrow Airport
Airports have been deserted since 11 September
International air passenger traffic has suffered its biggest drop since the Gulf War, according to new figures.

In its latest review of the industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that passenger volume dropped 17% year on year in September, as a result of the terror attacks on the US.

The average passenger load factor on international flights was just 69% in September, meaning that one-third of seats were empty.

North American carriers suffered worst, recording a 30% plunge in traffic, IATA said.

The figures confirm existing anecdotal evidence that air travel has fallen dramatically from favour, as a result of passenger nervousness, cancellation of flights and travellers' irritation about cumbersome security procedures.

Over the past few weeks, airlines around the world have revealed a series of dismal results, most recently US Airways, which lost almost $800m in the third quarter of the year.

Slowdown becomes slump

Even before the attacks, the airline business was not in great shape.

The industry was facing nil growth in the first eight months of the year, IATA said.

At the same time, capacity in the industry was still increasing.

The resulting oversupply of airline seats sparked a price war, which was already eating into airlines' financial performance ahead of 11 September.

Now, most major international carriers have slashed their schedules - by on average 20% - and shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in an effort to keep afloat.

Some, notably Swissair and Belgium's Sabena, have filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors.

Jobs warning

As the IATA report was released, further evidence of the slump came from a two-day think-tank meeting called by the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Delegates said that world airlines would need years to recover from the impact of the hijackings, and the ILO estimated that 200,000 airline employees face the loss of their jobs.

The new ILO lay-offs figure exceeds a previous assessment from IATA, which now forecasts that the attacks would cost the industry a total of $7bn in lost revenue by the end of this year.

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Business
US Airways posts huge loss
30 Oct 01 | Business
Swissair rescue plan in jeopardy
17 Oct 01 | Business
United Airlines 'may perish'
09 Oct 01 | Business
British Airways to cut workers' pay
21 Sep 01 | Business
Northwest Airlines cuts 10,000 jobs
21 Sep 01 | Business
US offers airlines $15bn aid
20 Sep 01 | Business
EU considers aid for airlines
19 Sep 01 | Business
US airlines lose 40,000 more jobs
17 Sep 01 | Business
UK airlines 'need government aid'
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