For air travelers, there's a growing fear of flying

These are strange and uncertain times for air travelers.

Three deadly commercial airline crashes took place in July. Two of the incidents, in Mali and Taiwan, were apparently weather-related. And then there was the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile, with the loss of nearly 300 lives.

Also in July, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned U.S. air carriers from flying into Israel's Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv following a rocket attack near the facility.

And on Thursday, two international aviation groups said they are working closely with the World Health Organization to help contain the unprecedented outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in western Africa.

So it's probably not too surprising that, according to a new survey by TheStreet web site, more than one-third of Americans polled say they are afraid to fly internationally.

The survey also notes that, of those afraid to fly overseas, "women are more fearful than men, older people are more fearful than younger people, and people in the west are less fearful than people in other regions."

Civilian air travel continues to grow at record levels around the world. But aviation industry officials are sensitive to the realization that this year, which is only half-over, has become the worst for airline fatalitities since 2010.

"We all know that aviation is extremely safe, with safety rates that are the envy of other industries," Flight Safety Foundation CEO Jon Beatty said in a statement after the crash of the Air Algerie jet in Mali.

"A week such as this, with a tragic cluster of aviation tragedies," he continued, "serves as a strong reminder that safety must always be the first consideration in everything. Safety is never 'done.'"

Experts, meanwhile, expect the upward trend in civilian air travel to continue, despite the recent disasters.

"They're all tragic, but the global air travel consumer has a very short memory and it's highly localized to their home markets where they fly," aviation industry analyst Robert W. Mann Jr recently told The Associated Press.

"The places where these things are happening, 99 percent of passengers never go to or fly to," he continued. This isn't a headline issue for most people, and that's why people continue to fly despite the headlines."

  • Bruce Kennedy

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