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UNC Expert Predicts More Turbulence For Airlines

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RALEIGH — A local expert who has followed the aviation industry for 15 years says that there is no doubt that airlines are in for a lot of turbulence, at least in the short-term.

John Kasarda says that the crash of American Airlines flight 587 could prove devastating for the airlines.

"It's terrible timing," he says. "Many people already had an intense fear of flying, a large portion even before Sept. 11. Sept. 11 heightened it. This is a two-by-four between the eyes of the airline industry."

Kasarda, an airline industry analyst, expects many people will start to scrap plans to fly, especially during the holidays.

A travel agent in Wilson says that, so far, that has not happened.

"We've had two cancellations today due to this morning's incident," says Marianne Davis of The Travel Shoppe.

Kasarda believes that it will now be even tougher for smaller, struggling airlines like Midway.

"Whether Midway can get up and running, the headwind that it was flying into, which was hundreds of miles right in its face, has notched up doublefold," he says.

The UNC business school professor is still positive about the industry's long-term prospects.

"Time has become increasingly important for people [with] businesses and relatives scattered around the country. The Internet and teleconferencing has not substituted for personal contacts," he says.

Kasarda says the 21st century will be known as the aviation century.

"Yes, these problems will be sorted out, security and safety. In two to five years, all expectations are that people will be back on the airplanes in record numbers," he says.

Kasarda expects the aviation industry to bounce back as soon as 2003, which incidentally, is the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk.


Len Besthoff, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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