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Swine Flu Could Devastate Air Travel Industry

Airlines are worried that a prolonged outbreak of swine flu could deter people from traveling. Air travel, of course, plays a primary role in the global spread of diseases (remember the SARS scare a few years back), so a cutback in traffic may be crucial to halting the outbreak. As the International Air Travel Association put it, “anything that shakes the confidence of passengers has a negative impact on the business. And the timing [of the outbreak] could not be worse given all of the other economic problems airlines are facing.”

So far, airlines aren’t seeing a wave of canceled flights. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that American had received a few calls, but not huge numbers of cancellations. Passengers may be taking a wait-and-see approach. However, if the situation worsens, airlines may extend their change fee waivers or begin canceling flights altogether.

Here’s the Centers for Disease Control’s updated swine flu information page. Right now, the State Department is advising against non-essential travel to Mexico in an effort to keep returning travelers from spreading it to the U.S. It also offers a series of health tips for those who do travel to areas affected by swine flu.

Will the swine flu outbreak change your travel plans for the coming weeks or even months? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

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