Viktor Ziegler’s advice on overcoming the common fear of traveling by plane

What is the best reaction to have when you hear about a crash? Don’t think that just because this happened it may also happen to you. It will not. After a crash, there will be less risk because all the airlines learn from negative experiences. Does the free market and competition affect security? Yes, definitely and unfortunately. There are airlines that appear for one or two years, perhaps earn a lot of money at great cost, and then shut down. I do believe there should be some regulation and I believe this will come. The government hands out the license and the airport the landing and takeoff operation permission, so they should be stricter than they are now. They should not let any lobbyists or economizing be more important than safety. Companies that don’t fulfill safety regulations should be grounded. There has been a lot of discussion about low-budget airlines as to whether they comply with safety standards and how experienced their staff is. Unfortunately, in life you cannot be 100 percent sure of anything, but you can reduce the risk and choose the airline you fly with according to strict criteria. Of course you can fly from Athens to London for 50 euros but this does not mean that the whole aircraft is filled with passengers all paying 50 euros, as this does not cover the costs. Is the oversight system good enough at the moment? To be honest, if it was good enough, this Helios crash might not have happened. So I can only hope that everyone concerned has learnt from it. What would you tell people who are afraid of flying? The fact that they are afraid is completely normal. I am afraid as well, but it depends on what one makes of one’s fear, whether one is so afraid that one cries and screams and believes one is about to die anyhow, or whether one just accepts this monster of fear by saying: ‘OK, I am afraid, but this is natural.’ What do you do when you are afraid? I try to do anything I can to relax, because I know I can do nothing about the situation so I have to trust that the pilot is doing his best, because he also wants to survive, not only me. How often do you fly? Once a week at least. I live in a small town near Graz, and if I have a meeting in Vienna, I never drive the 200 kilometers; it is much too dangerous, to be honest. You have called your book «The Joy of Flying.» Why do you like it? The joy of flying is the whole experience: of being 10,000 meters up in the sky, of flying at 900 kilometers an hour, and getting to my destination the fastest way possible. No other means of transportation is as safe as using an airline. What would spoil that joy? I would not enjoy my flight if I saw that an aircraft was not maintained properly, or if I knew that the airline was not safe; I would not use it at all. This article first appeared in the August 28 edition of K, Kathimerini’s color supplement.