With America's airline industry in the throes of a financial crisis and many Western airlines running at a loss and future looks bleak for the once-thriving aircraft industry.
ARIZONA, USA, 1982:
Planes in desert
Background: With America's airline industry in the throes of a financial crisis and many Western airlines running at a loss and future looks bleak for the once-thriving aircraft industry. The world recession, and the massive hike in fuel prices in 1979 contributed to a situation where many airlines ran into deep financial trouble. However, experts believe that as the US economy struggles out of recession and with it the economies of the West the picture for airlines will be brighter. Some will go under but those that survive should be more flexible and cost efficient.
A sign of the times. These jests parked in an Arizona desert are left to go derelict. The airlines find it cheaper to leace them here at less than ten dollars a day than fly them half-empty at three thousand dollars an hour. Last May Braniff International airways collapsed and more recently Continental Airlines, the eighth largest US carrier filed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. This allows companies protection from creditors while they carry out restructuring.
Even the world's biggest airline British Airways has been hit hard by the slump and high wage bills. The airline has slashed staff by 8,500, frozen wages and reduced unprofitable flights in an effort to break even. But there are grounds for optimism -- the prestige supersonic Concorde has begun to break even on the transatlantic run after making massive losses.
Perhaps the most spectacular airline collapse of recent years was the bankruptcy of Sir Freddie Laker's Skytrain service.The pioneer of cheap flights across the Atlantic and to Europe, the UK-based company was forced to call in the receiver after a steady decline in ticket sales. Freddie Laker has bought 10 European Airbuses and the demise of his airline contributed significantly to the present glut of aircraft on the world markets.
There are signs however, that the industry could be through its worst crisis. Visnews reporter Peter Wills spoke to top UK aviation journalist David Learmount about the future of the world's airlines.
One area of the world where airlines are already expanding is Asia. Asian countries like Thailand are increasing both their fleets and routes. The President of Thai International, Bancha Sukhanusasna, forsees a good year ahead, not only in Asia but in Europe too. But he stresses that to meet the challenge of the 80s airlines will have to be far more flexible and professional in their approach to investment - and far more cost effective.