Global aviation industry has shown “surprising resilience” to terrorism, pandemics and natural disasters, and quickly adapted to the situations mitigating the impact of these crises, a study has shown.

While, the 9/11 terror attacks and the global banking crisis were the only two events that hit the industry hard, the others like Gulf Wars, swine flu and volcanic eruptions did not have much impact on it and the industry was able to recoup itself soon thereafter.

“The analysis shows that global airline capacity has grown on average 3.1 per cent per year since 1979, and that air travel is largely immune to regionalised events such as natural disasters, conflicts and fuel price spikes,” UK-based aviation intelligence organisation, OAG Aviation, said.

The industry has remained “mostly immune to all but the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and the Global Banking crisis,” it said in its ‘World Crisis Analysis Report’ released recently.

“In fact, in the vast majority of crises, there was a negligible impact in global airline capacity, and at a regional level capacity dropped less than 4 per cent and recovered within three months.”

The analysis, which calculated the impact that events such as terrorism, pandemics and natural disasters have had on global airline capacity over the past 30 years, showed that the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the 2008-09 global banking crisis were “the only two events since 1979 that caused significant decreases in global air capacity.”

This decline averaged a three and nine per cent drop in capacity and recovering within 36 months and 24 months respectively, it showed.

The analysis has “shown how quickly the aviation industry responds and adapts in the face of almost any disaster, which is reassuring news for world markets and the ancillary industries that depend on aviation,” said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation which owns OAG aviation.

“Informed by sound historical data and analytics that provide a reliable picture of how external factors affect passenger demand, airlines are able to quickly adjust their flight capacities based on market needs, thus mitigating the impact of crises,” Mr. von Moltke said.

Between 1979 and September 11, 2001, world airline capacity steadily rose by an average of 5 per cent or 94 million seats annually. The rate declined to 2.6 per cent or 81 million seats after the 9/11 attacks, the study showed.

Regionalised events like the Gulf wars, swine flu and volcanic eruptions caused on average less than 4 per cent drop in regional airline capacity that recovered within three months or less, with a negligible impact on global capacity.

The continued growth in air capacity was driven mainly by Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, Middle East and China, where growth of the middle class and personal wealth contributed to increased air travel demand.

“Difficult lessons learned from past tragedies have been taken to heart and put to good use by the aviation industry, which is poised to continue growing for the foreseeable future,” Mario Hardy, UBM Aviation’s Vice President Asia Pacific, said.

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