No other industry was devastated by the Sept. 11 attacks quite like the U.S. airlines. Now - after nearly $40 billion in losses, bankruptcies at at least 10 U.S. airlines and the disappearance of more than 150,000 jobs - it is finally bouncing back.

Now - after nearly $40 billion in losses, bankruptcies at at least 10 U.S. airlines and the disappearance of more than 150,000 jobs - it is finally bouncing back. In many ways it may even be in better shape than before, thanks to federal government help and aggressive cost-cutting achieved in the wake of the disaster.

Although still plagued by high fuel prices and debt levels, "five years later what we have is a much different industry, and I think a stronger one in some sense," said US Airways CEO Douglas Parker.

Despite the likelihood that planes remain top targets among terrorists - look no further than the recent discovery of a London-based plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights - the threat doesn't seem to have hurt the demand for air travel. And traffic has rebounded to near-2001 levels even though flying is, in Parker's words, "less easy" than it used to be.

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