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2001 Int'l Travel L.J. 254 (2001)
The U.S. Airline Industry after September 11, 2001

handle is hein.journals/itlj2001 and id is 260 raw text is: [2001] International Travel Law Journal

Timothy M Ravich
Humankind cannot bear ver much realiy.
T.S. Eliot

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the
United States, and its vital commercial air trans-
portation network, irreversibly changed. On that
date, in-service commercial jetliners were hijacked
and ruthlessly navigated into both Twin Towers
of the World Trade Center in New York City, and
the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Now, America
has engaged in a war against global terrorism and
the nation's airline industry, as well as other
elements of the national economy, is traumatised.
The post-September 11 reality of air travel is a
surreal one. The nation's 450 commercial airports
are patrolled by gun-toting National Guardsmen
while recently-drafted legislation requires federal
marshals to fly anonymously aboard airliners with
newly-reinforced cockpit doors. All the while, the
President of the United States and the Congress
offer the essentially impossible encouragement
that citizens go about their normal routine even,
or especially if, such routine involves commercial
air travel. The government's message and hope is
that Americans return to normal and demon-
strate an unyielding national resolve by returning
to the sky. For airline passengers and the industry
alike, such well-intentioned rhetoric is not a
panacea. The bitter practical and economic conse-
quences of the September 11 attacks are all too
obvious to a private domestic airline system that
already was barely managing profitability and
facing reduced passenger traffic. As such, there
exists what Vice-President Richard B. Cheney
called a new normalcy. This article examines the
evolution of the new normalcy by surveying the

recently-passed   Aviation  Security  Act and
Secure Transportation for America Act of
2001. In that context, this article also examines
the yet-unresolved question of whether the
government     or   private   enterprise   should
ultimately be responsible for airport security and
the several thousand personnel involved and what
role passengers will or must have in establishing a
bearable, normalised reality.
Industry Paralysis And Economic
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist
attacks and without precedent, all scheduled
commercial airline traffic in the United States was
grounded for several days as a precaution against
further suicide hijackings. With only the custom-
ary several weeks worth of liquid capital available,
individual airlines lost millions of dollars each day.
Slowly the major airlines resumed their flight
schedules. Many passengers decided otherwise.
Consequently, America's largest five airlines
reduced their respective work forces and stream-
lined their route system by up to 20 percent, on
average. From a business perspective, several
airlines, including industry giant United Airlines,
predicted they would not survive as going
concerns. In fact, within two weeks of the
September 11 attacks, Congress passed the 'Air
Transportation Safety and System Stabilization
Act. In doing so, the federal government loaned
the airline industry $15 billion, promised to
reimburse air carriers for the difference in their

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