At the time of the 9/11/01 terrorist acts, the airline industry was already suffering a downturn in loads due to a weakening economy. The 9/11 attacks attacks were pretty much like someone shooting a person that had already been stabbed, it made a bad situation even worse. UAL's union contracts were already dragging down the company, because the payroll was cutting into any profits, and if you're not making any money, you're digging yourself deeper into debt. US and UAL were still trying to get back on track after their failed merger, so UAL was not really well prepared for the fallout post-9/11. With two of their a/c being used in the attcks, it was not exactly good publicity for the carrier. The image of one of their planes smashing into the WTC is going to always be the image in the minds of those who watched the events of 9/11 unfold. People were afraid to fly, fearing another terrorist attack, and United, along with American suffered larger drops in bookings as a result of their a/c being the ones that were hijacked.