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ILO: 9/11 Terror Attacks Caused a Massive Crisis in Aviation Industry - 2002-01-25

About 200 government, airline and labor union delegates have just ended a week-long meeting on the crisis facing the aviation industry. Hosted by the International Labor Organization, the meeting examined ways to improve airline security and restore people's confidence in air travel.

The International Labor Organization says the September terrorist attacks in the United States have created the worst crisis in the aviation industry since World War II. The ILO estimates at least 400,000 jobs and untold billions of dollars have been lost as a direct result of the September 11 attacks.

The ILO's executive director, Sally Paxton, says the delegates agreed measures must be taken, world-wide, so people feel safe flying again.

"Clearly, global standards require global training, and that is something that the participants have called for. There was also a recognition that, for example, many developing countries may need assistance, including financial assistance, to help them implement any global standards," she said.

Ms. Paxton acknowledged that increased security measures will mean longer delays for travelers. She said one way to get around this problem is by developing technologies that are smarter, without being over-burdensome. But the labor official also has noted safety is not the only worry the flying public has.

"There was discussion at the meeting about the consumers being concerned about particular airlines going out of business, and, therefore, not wanting to buy tickets. So, if you can ensure economic stability, and there is a feeling among consumers that the industry is, in fact, a vibrant one, they will be more willing to participate," Ms. Paxton said.

In addition to calling for measures to restore public confidence in air travel, the ILO meeting also proposed measures to protect workers and employers in the airline industry. Among other things, the ILO said governments should find ways to ensure flight crews are protected from violent passengers.