U.N. agency says airlines will take years to recover

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

GENEVA -- It will take the world's airlines years to recover from the terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.N. labor agency said Tuesday.

"The events of Sept. 11 were unlike any other shock experienced by the industry," said a statement issued after two days of talks by airline experts, organized by the International Labor Organization.

Already more than 200,000 of the 4 million people working for airlines worldwide have lost their jobs, ILO said.

"It is expected to take years for the industry to reach the same levels as before Sept. 11, 2001," said Jean-Jacques Elmiger, a Swiss official who chaired the two-day discussion.

The meeting also included sessions on the impact of the attacks on the hotel and tourism industries. Preliminary industry figures suggest the effect on employment in tourism could be "catastrophic," said ILO.

"The Sept. 11 events have posed a double threat: the short-term shock of sharply reduced demand due to loss of consumer confidence and the longer term and potentially more profound impact of the economic downturn," the ILO statement said.

The airline industry's umbrella organization, also based in Geneva, said separately Tuesday that global passenger traffic in September was 17 percent lower than the same month last year.

North American carriers suffered most, with a fall of more than 30 percent in their passenger and freight traffic, said the International Air Transport Association.

European and East Asian airlines experienced a 12 percent decline in passenger traffic, IATA said. Last month, IATA said the industry would lose $7 billion this year, mainly because of the impact of the attacks.

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