Many Americans seem to be more than a little nervous about taking to the skies since the Sept. 11 hijackings.
The Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, has reported that passenger load levels are hovering at about 40 percent, down from as high as 80 percent. Reduced interest in flying is compounding the struggling industry's financial problems, which were around long before the attacks but have intensified since then.
One way to restore faith in the safety of air travel is increased safety measures that will provide passengers with some level of comfort. In response to the terrorist attacks, Alaska Airlines was one of the first major airlines to install a cockpit door security device designed to make entry into the cockpit more difficult.
Alaska Airlines earlier this week installed the three-quarter-inch steel bar on an MD-80 in Seattle that was grounded for maintenance. The company plans to install the bars on 32 of its MD-80s and on its 70 Boeing 737s over the next month.
An airline spokesman said this is considered a ''stopgap measure'' until more permanent security solutions are found, but it's a good start. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release a report outlining what permanent security measures will be required for commercial aviation.
Alaska Airlines is proving itself a leader on this issue as the entire industry works through the ramifications of the terrorist attacks. Although industry experts predict that not all major airlines will survive this crisis financially, Alaska Airlines has been included on experts' lists of airlines with good enough financial standing to make it through.
These steel bars are considered a temporary measure until more permanent safety solutions are developed and implemented. But it's a positive step toward making air travel safer and restoring the public's trust in the industry.
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