air traffic has continued to increase and it now constitutes a considerable proportion of the travelling public. The amount of long-hour flights has increased significantly. Based on the International Civil Aviation authority, air traffic can be anticipated to double amid till 2020. Airline travel, especially over longer distances, makes air travelers vulnerable to numerous facets that will impact their health and well-being. Particularly, the speed with which influenza spreads and mutates, via transportation routes, is the reason why the influenza pandemic is considered to be a huge threat to the human population. Pandemic is a term, which is used for a virus or microbe when it spreads over a large area, in severe cases even the whole world and large number of people start getting affecting by it (CDC, 2009).
In the past 300 years, there have been ten significant influenza pandemics outbreaks that have taken place in this world. The greatest outbreak among these ten is the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic because of which around 30% of the world's population got infected and from among those 50 to 100 million people died. The main reason behind the Spanish Flu's quick spread was the modern and advance transportation system which started providing the global coverage in the 20th century, because of this not only the infected people were able to get to different parts of the world thus spreading the virus but the railway and shipment crew got extremely sick as well, and they picked up the virus from not only the infected passengers but also the infected places that they travelled to (CDC, 2009).
It is being considered by the experts that some other pandemic might occur again and it would cause a lot of havoc as the transportation system has become so advanced now. The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that spread in 2002- 2003 and later on in 2009 the Swine Flu that spread so quickly because of the global air travel system, it is now being considered that the next pandemic might cause a lot of damage to the human population (CDC, 2009).
Researchers have consistently highlighted two major factors that play a critical role in the relationship between pandemic outbreaks and the transportation system. The first one is the role of a vector that is played by the transportation. As, now-a-days quick and effective air travel has become very common, the infectious diseases can easily spread through this transportation. Researchers note that the passenger air travel system can cause this spread more effectively than any other system. Therefore the air travel can be called a vector in case of pandemic. Other researchers point out that the air transportation has been observed as a vector that spreads the pandemic in its early stages (CDC, 2009).
The second factor is the continuation of the distribution of freight, which is also a cause of concern. In today's economic world it is not possible to carry out the activities without the continuous delivery of food, electricity, fuel and other resources. Therefore, some events that can cause hindrance in the delivery and transportation of such items can cause a lot more problems than a pandemic (CDC, 2009).
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to examine the factors, which place airports and airlines at risk of spreading communicable diseases. Secondly, this paper studies the behavioral changes in the aviation workforce and air travelers during a pandemic outbreak. Lastly, this paper also investigates steps taken by U.S. institutions, both public and private, to minimize pandemic outbreak threats and maximize standard behavioral patterns in the aviation workforce and air travelers during a pandemic outbreak.
The aforementioned research questions can be transformed into the following research questions:
1. What puts airports and airlines at risk of spreading communicable diseases?
2. What behavioral changes take place in the aviation workforce and air travelers during a pandemic outbreak?
3. What steps have been taken by U.S. institutions to minimize pandemic outbreak threats and maximize standard behavioral patterns in the aviation workforce and air travelers during a pandemic outbreak?
Significance of the Study
This study carries significant value for the Department of Transportation and airline businesses associated with it.
1) The findings of this study can expand the knowledge about emergency preparedness during pandemic outbreaks.
2) It can provide valuable data, which can help make effective decisions to regulate and set higher standards for emergency preparedness programs during pandemic outbreaks.
3) This study and its findings will become an addition to and update of existing research on emergency preparedness programs, particularly pandemic outbreaks.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
The subsequent Literature Review assesses the link between pandemic outbreaks and air travel and steps taken by U.S. institutions to prevent and minimize pandemic outbreaks at airports and air travel. The Literature Review is comprised of nine sections. The first section provides an overview of the 2 factors that play a critical role in the relationship between pandemic outbreaks and transportation, which are (1) vectors and velocities; and (2) Continuity of Freight Distribution. The second section provides a background of past pandemic outbreaks and diseases spread via transportation system. The third section develops the argument being leveled against the aviation industry. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh sections describe the impact of pandemic outbreaks on airports, airlines, aviation workforce and the national economy. The eighth section describes how the federal and local governments are tackling this issue. Lastly, in the ninth section, Ratio Analysis of Cathay Pacific is carried out to assess the financial impact pandemic outbreaks on airlines. Lastly, a summary of the literature review is provided along with the need to carry out this study.
Section one: The link between pandemic outbreaks and air travel
Vectors and Velocities
The more the speed of the vector the quicker it will be in spreading the disease. Therefore, in today's world when the speed of our transportation has increased to such a great extent it is very easy for a pandemic to cover large areas in a very short period of time. Today the railway, air transportation is being widely used to travel long distances because of which the concentration of passengers also occurs in all these places which again widely increases the risk of getting infected (Brigantic et al., 2009).
In the past a trend like this where large number of passengers had to travel together could have been helpful as, it would have been able to quarantine that transport, for example: during a voyage there would have been a lot of time for the infected people to show the symptoms of the disease and thus, that ship could be quarantined. However, in today's transportation world as, the incubation period of a disease is a lot more than the speed of the transportation it has become almost impossible to find out if a person has gotten infected before he/she reaches another place before the symptoms surface. The reason behind this is the fact that usually the incubation period of a disease is 1 to 4 days while in that much time a person can reach the other end of the world, which clearly shows how easy it is for the translocation to take place thus, the occurrence of a pandemic becomes undeniable (Brigantic et al., 2009).
Another thing that usually happens when an individual develops the symptoms is the "denial phase," in which that particular person would ignore the symptoms and the fact that he/she might has gotten infected, instead he would continue to travel. It has been noted that the person would continue travelling especially if he/she is going back to place that they belong to. Another trend that has been noted in the people who develop these symptoms is that they prefer to get on a plane back to home when they notice that they are getting ill rather than the place of their destination and doing so they further spread the infection in many other places that they go to or the people that they come in contact with. Also, it has been noticed that since the global transportation system is a lot faster than the regional ones so there is a chance that the pandemic might spread on the global level a lot quicker than it would on a regional level (Brigantic et al., 2009).
After the outbreak of a pandemic the transportation system can be shut down whether partially or completely and with or without the willingness of the passengers. This is exactly what happened in case of the SARS outbreak in 2003 when the transportation system was shut down, however, in this case the passengers were not willing to accommodate this action but nevertheless the system was shut down. In case of the SARS outbreak in China the public transportation wasn't shut down but the amount of passengers decreased a lot as, people stopped using the public transportation to avoid getting infected. Similarly, trends of decrease in the number of employees was noted in the air…