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What's the future of the airline industry?


Andrew R. Thomas

A new book by University of Akron assistant professor of international business and marketing and best-selling author Andrew R. Thomas reviews the critical role that commercial aviation plays in virtually every facet of our economy and daily lives.

"Soft Landing: Airline Industry Strategy, Service, and Safety" (Apress: New York, October 2011), examines and analyzes the past, present and future of the airline industry and its effects on consumers and the economy.

Remains strong economic driver

"Air travel and aviation receive a disproportionate amount of news coverage in the popular press, not to mention chatter at cocktail parties and workplaces around the world," Thomas says. "And why not? Aviation represents a sector of the U.S economy, for example, exceeded in size only by the real estate, health care and automotive industries."

The airline industry agrees with Thomas' assessment.

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Air Travel in 2011

The Air Transport Association of America's 2010 Economic Report says that commercial aviation is a major backbone of the modern American economy, driving $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity and 11 million well-paying American jobs. Aviation supports local economies and creates new markets at home and abroad. Communities from coast to coast depend heavily on access to the air transportation network for economic development.

Stability on the rise

Knocked to its knees by 9/11 and a decade of falling revenue and rising losses, the industry's "flying cheap" strategy and organizational efficiencies based partly on outsourcing have appear to have helped passengers and stability return, according to Soft Landing.

"Turbulence is always a possibility," says Thomas. "Rising fuel costs, economic uncertainty and future terror attacks could cause tumult once again. Plus, the airlines intend to charge us extra for everything from the weight of our own bodies to use of the bathroom. But as the industry has discovered, we'll put up with that — and more — if we can make it to our destinations with bags intact and a smaller dent in our wallets."

Soft Landing:

  • Sorts out the promise and perils facing passengers and the airlines
  • Analyzes and articulate the potential impact of changes in the aviation industry on passengers, airports, governments, the global economy, and the airlines themselves
  • Gives airline passengers worldwide an idea of what’s ahead when it comes to airline service, security, and technology
  • Details what globalization does and does not mean for the industry
  • Illustrates how terrorists will become more innovative in continued attempts to destroy airplanes and airports
  • Why aviation security will continue to muddle along
  • What the consolidation of major carriers means for consumers
  • Why airline employee unions in the U.S. will not survive in their present form
  • What air travel will be like in the future

Andrew R. Thomas, Ph.D. is a bestselling business author, whose books include "Aviation Insecurity: The New Challenges of Air Travel," "Air Rage: Crisis in the Skies, Aviation Security Management (3 volumes)," and "The Final Journey of the Saturn V." His book "The Distribution Trap" was awarded the Berry-American Marketing Association Prize for the Best Book of 2010. He is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security, contributing editor at Industry Week and assistant professor of international business at The University of Akron.

Media contact: Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or