Air Transport World

Hope - and hard times; Europe, Eastern as well as Western, is in a period of profound economic change.

Europe, Eastern as well as Western, is in a period of profound economic change. And more than Europe will benefit. By John S. McClenahen. Omar Khayyam was wrong.

East is meeting West-in Europe. A result is a new dynamism, a palpable sense of excitement, hope, and opportunity-in Western and Eastern Europe. But also, there is the reality that as change unmistakably comes to places such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, it will not be even-or easy. These countries of Eastern Europe, after all, are places where words such as competition, profit and even democracy don't necessarily carry the same meanings as they do in the industrially advanced nations of Western Europe. Nevertheless, Europe no longer is just London, Paris and Rome. increasingly, business people and tourists from all over the world are adding destinations such as Budapest and Bucharest, Warsaw and Prague-and Sofia-to the three mainstays of what once was known as the grand tour." What follows is a "tour" of the economic changes and their specific implications for the air-transport industry.

After the fall

Fourteen months after the fall of its infamous wall, Berlin symbolizes the new ease of access to Eastern Europe. Checkpoint Charlie has been chucked-to be enshrined in a museum. No longer is the city divided by politics or isolated by geography. Barriers-physical and psychological-continue to tumble in the wake of the six months of revolutionary political change during late 1989 and early 1990.

But many months-more likely years-must pass before the once-solid bloc of East European nations is fully reshaped. Unlike recent political change, economic change will come slowly.

"The harshest reality, the truth perhaps least appreciated by people in the industrialized nations of the West, is that productive capacity in Eastern Europe will not soon be able to satisfy pent-up demand," observes Industry Week, like ATWA Penton Publishing magazine. Even with the anticipated infusion of capital, goods and services from the West, it will be some time before Czechoslovakia, Romania and other East European nations are able to meet the demand for basics such as food, clothing and shelter. …

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