Isn't it incredible how in a space of three weeks thousands of jobs have been lost in the airline industry and some carriers so badly damaged that their fate is almost sealed. What happened in the United States on September 11 was a disaster for everyone, completely unexpected and a hammer blow for the airline industry. But what surprises me is that airlines are unable to deal with a crisis and immediately have to lay off thousands of staff and cancel hundreds of flights. Some of the biggest airlines in the world, employing scores of thousands of people, have been the ones worst hit because of their massive commitment to the United States. You would have thought that the large flag-carriers would have the necessary financial clout to meet a crisis head-on and weather the storm without having to take drastic action. It appears to me that some airlines operate on a day to day basis and if the flight is not full then the alarm bells start sounding. Some of the no-frills airlines have alleged that the larger carriers are in some way taking advantage of the situation to introduce job cuts and to get government aid. This may be just part of the war of words but you would have thought that larger airlines would be better equipped to cope with the bad times.

Air travel is not necessarily cheap and it is interesting to note that it is the airlines with the lowest fares which have so far escaped the slowdown. I have always been opposed to taxpayers' money being used to bail out private companies because where do you stop? Perhaps the larger airlines should start taking note of their no-frills counterparts because earlier this month tiny Ryanair was worth more, according to the City of London, than British Airways. Big is not always best.

Jason Moore

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