The fear felt by possible passengers for terrorism may be larger than it should be. The real risk of flying is probably lower at the moment than it was a month ago. Leave behind the terrorist attacks for a moment and look at what this event means.
Consequences for passengers
Many of us have travelled by air, and taken good care of our valuable air tickets. Stop thinking of the air tickets as having a value, and start thinking of it as a proof of an unsecured loan. A loan you have given to an airline company against a promise that they may possibly redeem the loan with a seat on a flight if they still are solvent and the fuel suppliers will let them fly.
The question passengers should ask themselves is - why should we be willing to pay in advance for something that may not be delivered. At least we should demand that they insure the tickets for the face value.
Consequences for airlines and IATA
This is another blow that will increase the fear of flying. We used to believe that IATA had some value as a guarantee against our loss. No more. The IATA membership should be seen almost as an advertisement gimmick designed to make us more likely to choose an airline that is a member than one that is not.
Consequences for Swissair and Switzerland
This company had a solid reputation. The reputation helped increase the view of Switzerland. The downfall means that this brand has lost its value, and that our view of Switzerland is less solid. The rest of us should also consider that letting an airline use the flag as a symbol lets the airline borrow some of our status as well as giving us status. That is fine in good times, but unless we are willing to back the airline up in bad times, we may loose status with it too.
The consequences I have given here may be lessened if the passengers are reimbursed fully, but will not be eliminated.