Most every sector of the economy, in one way or another, has been affected by the terrorist attacks. The local and national economies are sinking into recession, and many businesses are suffering all-time lows in activity. Against that backdrop, the federal government has decided to give a multibillion-dollar assistance package to the commercial airlines, many of which saw their market values sliced in half in the weeks after the attack. So the Business Journal asks:

Do you support the U.S. government's decision to bail out the airline industry? Dane Chapin
Chief Executive
USAopoly Inc.

Yes. I'm supportive because the terrorist incident dealt a catastrophic blow not only to the financial health of the airline industry but also to the public confidence in air travel. And really, it's hard to know where to draw the line as to whom to bail out and whom not to. Obviously, a lot of people have been affected by this. Maintaining the integrity of the air system will get people back flying, which will, in turn, affect the hotels and various industries that are dependent on a traveling public. In ordinary times, I'd say, "Let the market take care of it." But these are not ordinary times.

Patty Senecal
Vice President, Sales
Transport Express

Yes. If we don't bail them out and the airline industry fails, most of our commerce will go with it. It's part of our economy and it's part of business. For people in international business, it's a must. You have to look at all the other industries that are affected by air travel. From rental cars down to people who sell "I Love Long Beach" T-shirts to restaurants, the impact is far-reaching. It's an integral part of our economy and it has to remain viable. I'd really like to see the conditions of the bailout, though. That industry was already on the edge, so I hope it's not a complete bailout. Ultimately, there has to be room for market forces. My other concern is, if we're giving them money, how much of that is trickling down to employees?

Steve Hunt
President
ShipMate Inc.

I have mixed feelings, truthfully. Yes, because I believe that the airlines are such an important part of our economy. But no, because I think a lot of them weren't operating profitably before Sept. 11, and they're going to use this as a crutch. USAir, for example. They were in a very bad financial position, and now they're saying, "Oh, we can't stay in business because you shut down Reagan National." I think the Europeans have the right idea. They're only funding airlines that were operating profitably before the terrorist attacks.

ShipMate Inc.

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Grant Kirkpatrick
Principal, Owner
Kirkpatrick Associates Architects

In terms of "bailing out?" No. I don't think the government is in that position, and I'm not sure if that's something that needs to happen. If the airline industry finds itself in a position where it requires a federal bailout, that would be one thing. But at this point, I don't know if the airlines need that. I do support some level of short-term federal assistance, especially in the case of a loan or some sort of grant package. Whatever financial aid, I think the terms should be clear. I find it a bit too early to suggest that the airline industry needs to be bailed out.

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