Foiled terrorist attacks could lead to businesses reassessing need for travel, risk management expert says

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The thwarted terrorist plans to blow up U.S.-bound airlines, which resulted in heightened security at airports and restrictions for airline passengers, may force companies to reevaluate the way in which they conduct business travel, according to Dr. Brenda Wells, associate professor of risk management and insurance at the University of North Texas.

Well, the founding director of the UNT Financial Services Center, says that because employees are "the most valuable resource" for a business, she expects risk managers to recommend changes in travel policies for the foreseeable future.

"Corporate risk management involves protection of the firm's profits, property and people," she says, adding that risk managers recommend that top management and key employees not fly on the same plane as a standard practice.

"Each key person should take a different flight. Prudent corporate executives will heed this recommendation, whether flying on commercial or private flights," she says.

She adds that companies often restrict or eliminate travel to "areas that present extraordinary political risks."

"Given the events of last week, we may see a decline in international travel of corporate employees, but that will also depend on importance of their travel to the company," she says.

Well says the current concerns over terrorism may mean increased business for some carriers.

"Small regional airlines thus far have not, to my knowledge, been terrorist targets," she says. "We thus may see risk managers recommending the use of lower-profile airlines when possible."

But Wells points out if you consider the number of planes that fly each day, and the number of passengers on those planes, the statistical probability of death due to air travel is still very low.

"Given the FAA's increased security requirements, I expect that it is still safer to fly than it is to travel by automobile or any other means," she says.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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