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Evaluating the long-run impacts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US domestic airline travel

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  • Scott Blunk
  • David Clark
  • James McGibany

Abstract

Although the US airline industry began 2001 with 24 consecutive profitable quarters, including net profits in 2000 totaling $7.9 billion, the impact of the 9/11 event on the industry was substantial. Whereas the recession that began in early 2001 signaled the end of profitability, the 9/11 terrorist attacks pushed the industry into financial crisis after air travel dropped 20% over the September-December 2001 period compared to the same period in 2000. Given the decline in domestic air travel, an important question is whether the detrimental impact of the attacks was temporary or permanent. That is, did airline travel return to the trend that existed prior to the terrorist attacks? There are theoretical reasons to the believe that it would not. Economists have long viewed travel-mode choices as the outcome of a comparison of opportunity costs and benefits. Thus, anything that permanently raises the opportunity cost of travel, holding benefits constant, should reduce the level of travel volume. To determine whether air travel was permanently reduced, we use econometric and time-series forecasting models to generate a counter-factual forecast of air travel volume in the absence of the terrorist attacks. These dynamic forecasts are compared to actual air travel levels to determine the impact of the terrorist attacks. The findings suggest that domestic air travel did not return to the levels that would have existed in the absence of the attack.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Blunk & David Clark & James McGibany, 2006. "Evaluating the long-run impacts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US domestic airline travel," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 363-370.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:38:y:2006:i:4:p:363-370 DOI: 10.1080/00036840500367930
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl Bonham & Christopher Edmonds & James Mak, 2006. "The Impact of 9/11 and Other Terrible Global Events on Tourism in the U.S. and Hawaii," Economics Study Area Working Papers 87, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    2. repec:eee:touman:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:3-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pitfield, D.E., 2008. "Some insights into competition between low-cost airlines," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 5-14.
    4. Bennett, Daniel & Chiang, Chun-Fang & Malani, Anup, 2015. "Learning during a crisis: The SARS epidemic in Taiwan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 1-18.
    5. Charles, Amelie & Darne, Olivier, 2006. "Large shocks and the September 11th terrorist attacks on international stock markets," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 683-698, July.
    6. Fildes, Robert & Wei, Yingqi & Ismail, Suzilah, 2011. "Evaluating the forecasting performance of econometric models of air passenger traffic flows using multiple error measures," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, pages 902-922.
    7. Pitfield, D.E., 2009. "The assessment of the EU–US Open Skies Agreement: The counterfactual and other difficulties," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 308-314.
    8. Helena Chulia & Francisco Climent & Pilar Soriano & Hipolit Torro, 2009. "Volatility transmission patterns and terrorist attacks," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(5), pages 607-619.
    9. Christopher Edmonds & James Mak, 2006. "Terrorism and Tourism in the Asia Pacific Region: Is Travel and Tourism in a New World After 9/11?," Economics Study Area Working Papers 86, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    10. Pitfield, D.E., 2008. "The Southwest effect: A time-series analysis on passengers carried by selected routes and a market share comparison," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 113-122.
    11. Chi, Junwook & Baek, Jungho, 2013. "Dynamic relationship between air transport demand and economic growth in the United States: A new look," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 257-260.
    12. Chi, Junwook, 2014. "A cointegration analysis of bilateral air travel flows: The case of international travel to and from the United States," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 41-47.
    13. Junwook, Chi & Jungho, Baek, 2013. "Dynamic Effects Of Economic Growth On U.s. Air Passenger And Freight Services," 54th Annual Transportation Research Forum, Annapolis, Maryland, March 21-23, 2013 206948, Transportation Research Forum.
    14. Cohen, Maurie J., 2010. "Destination unknown: Pursuing sustainable mobility in the face of rival societal aspirations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 459-470, May.

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