Trouble in the Air
September 11th, 2001, numerous airlines found themselves in financial
difficulty. Fear of flying hit some airlines so hard they went bankrupt.
Swissair, Switzerland’s prestigious ‘flag carrier’, was one such airline.
Ten years earlier the same fate befell Pan American, America’s de-facto
‘flag carrier’, when the Gulf War decimated international travel.
his latest study Victims of Hubris? The Decline and Fall of Pan Am and Swissair Dr Simon Bennett of the University of
Leicester’s Scarman Centre argues that both flag carriers were in trouble long
before they succumbed to war and terrorism.
fundamental problem with both Pan Am and Swissair lay in their corporate
psyches. Favoured for many years by their respective national governments, both
airlines found it difficult to come to terms with the harsh economic realities
of deregulated air travel and Reaganomics. When the penny finally dropped,
neither carrier could recover its position,” says Dr Bennett.
Bennett points to Pan Am’s fate as a learning opportunity — one that
Swissair conspicuously overlooked. Dr Bennett added: “Only if commercial
aviation dedicates itself to learning and applying the lessons of the past will
it avoid further damaging collapses”.
For more information, please contact Dr Simon Bennett on 0116 252 5700.
of the report, priced £5.50 including postage and packing, are available from
Ms Neha Shah, Administrator, at Scarman Centre, University of Leicester
Tel 0116 252 5737, email
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.