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Tuesday, Sep 22, 2020

19 Years after 9/11, COVID-19 poses similar threat to travel industry

Today marks 19 years since passenger jets hijacked by terrorists slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York City, and crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, USA.

The event, now known as the 9/11 Attacks killed nearly 3,000 people — some 2,700 of them in New York.

To date, 9/11 is the deadliest attack in US history and an event that would change the air travel industry forever.

Anyone in the world who remembers travelling before that fateful September 11 day can attest to the fact that everything was different — easier to say the least.

Identification requirements, shoe removal, baggage screening, liquid ban, jacket removal, enhanced pat-downs and enhanced cockpit doors are all things that became associated with air travel after 9/11.

Some of these freedoms are missed, especially the freedom of taking the entire family to the airport just to wave goodbye to the one family member who had to board a flight. This was something especially enjoyed by Caribbean people.

But just like the sinking of the Titanic impacted the maritime industry, 9/11 revolutionized the air travel industry. No other single event had impacted the air travel industry like 9/11.

Until COVID-19.

Global air travel wont recover till at least 2024


Not only has the pandemic — which originated in Wuhan, China in late 2019 — caused massive layoffs in the airline industry, but the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted a few weeks ago that global air travel won’t recover from the COVID-19 crisis until 2024.

The pandemic has also driven fear into travellers, who desist from visiting destinations out of concern for their health.

And the fears are legitimate. With over 900,000 deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has way surpassed 9/11 in terms of fatalities.

Today, none of us can imagine travelling without presenting proper identification. And for some time to come, we can be certain we won’t be able to board a flight without wearing masks and sanitizing ourselves every step of the way until we arrive at our destinations.

Who knows? Just like we have to declare how much cash we are carrying to our destinations, we might soon be asked to declare the last time we received a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight

These and many other changes are likely unless a vaccine is discovered to calm the fear that has enveloped the global community.

We’re not sure how things will look for the air travel industry in the next five years. But one thing’s for sure, things may very well look quite different.

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Caterina Fake
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