Impact of 9/11 on the American Airline Industry

February 9, 2018
By DanielK SILVER, Tirana, Other
DanielK SILVER, Tirana, Other
9 articles 0 photos 1 comment

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September 11, 2001 was one of the most agonizing days in the history of the United States. Major buildings were destroyed, and almost 3000 innocent people lost their lives as 3 of the 4 planes that got hijacked by terrorists crashed into their targets: both towers of the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon. Millions of others began to doubt their own safety. But most importantly, it had a major effect and was a very important turning point in the security of the airline industry.


Immediately after the attacks, many people were terrorized and consequently there was a huge reduction in passenger demand. According to Gabi Logan from USA Today, “Airlines experienced at least a 30 percent reduction in demand during the initial shock period immediately following the reopening.” This did not return to normality for months after 9/11. In fact it took nearly 3 years, until July of 2004, for airlines to surpass the previous number of passengers. However 9/11 didn’t just affect the number of passengers, it also affected the capacities of airplanes. Available seats on airplanes hit a peak of 90.6 million in August 2001 ( (US Department of Transportation). But after 9/11, the capacity dropped dramatically to only 67.5 million seats to match the decreasing demand of passengers. Even now that the number of passengers is increasing daily, there has only been a minimal increase in the capacity of airplanes. Because of this, airplanes today are flying with much fewer empty seats in order to for the airlines to be able to cover the increasing cost of fuel.


Along with the number of passengers and the capacity of airplanes, employment in the airline industry had a major decrease. Employment for network and low-cost carriers, or airlines, stood at about 530,000 in July 2001 ( However, in July 2005 that number fell to about 380,000. This huge decline came because as a result of 9/11, there was a massive drop in the employment for network carriers as opposed to a slight increase of low-cost carrier employment. According to the US Department of Transportation, “Network carrier employment fell by 28%, from about 466,000 in 2001 to about 310,000 in 2005. During the same time period, low-cost carrier employment increased by 8% from about 69,500 to about 75,000.”


As could be easily predicted, many drastic changes in airline security have been made following the attacks. Firstly, there are much more identification requirements. Instead of just giving your ticket and boarding your plane, now you need to present your ID, and your name must match your ticket. Also, only ticketed passengers are allowed in airline gate areas. Another very important change was that all baggage whether carry-on or checked must be screened. This was very important because before anyone could carry illegal items and go to board the plane unnoticed. Because of this change, people carrying illegal substances and weapons have been caught, and as a result a lot of innocent lives have been saved. According to information from FareCompare, some other security measures include the removement of outerwear during screening, the reinforcement and locking of cockpit doors during flights, and the banning of all liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces. These security measures taken are all very important in the guaranteeing of a safe flight.


The terrorist attacks of 9/11 left major effects on the American airline industry. There was a major reduction in passenger demand, many airlines went bankrupt, and hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs. However the airline industry learned from their huge mistakes, and made many changes which massively improved security within airports and during flights. 9/11 was one of the worst days in the history of the United States and left many negative effects, but we learned to step up from them and have already started looking towards a brighter future.

The author's comments:

This is an essay describing the drastic changes that the American Airline Industry went through immediately after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks in order to ensure that a tragedy of that kind does not occur again.

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