"Ugh, this year is doing nothing to help with my fear of flying in a plane."
That tweet from an Edmonton book blogger named Jenni (@XpressoJenni) sums up a lot of how people are feeling about the aviation industry these days.
This has certainly been a season of airline disasters.
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing March 8 and experts have still been unable to locate it.
Then Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing everyone on board including one Canadian.
On Thursday, 110 passengers, including five Canadians, were killed when Air Algerie flight AH5017 that crashed in the West African state of Mali on Thursday. There were no survivors.
It's enough to shake people up, one psychologist says.
If you're already afraid of flying, recent tragedies in the airline industry aren't going to help you overcome that fear, says Christine Purdon, the executive director of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the University of Waterloo. Even if you're hesitant about flying, the news could push you over the edge.
The headlines "incubate fear in people who are already afraid," Purdon said. "People are more jumpy and nervous."
But reports of plane crashes won't deter most travellers. In fact, Purdon said the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., she booked a flight to Philadelphia.
When you look at the statistics, "almost nothing ever happens," she said.
The recent headlines have become so frequent, the International Air Transport Association went so far as to release a statement Thursday to assure travellers flying is safe.
"Every day, approximately 100,000 flights take to the sky and land without incident. In 2013 more than three billion people flew and there were 210 fatalities. Regrettably, we have surpassed that number already this year. But even so, getting on an aircraft is still among the safest activities that one can do," reads a statement from the association's CEO Tony Tyler.
Mark Salter, a professor at the University of Ottawa who studies aviation security, agreed Canadians do not need to fear flying.
"Statistically, they should be more worried about driving to the airport than getting on a plane. Canadians are way more likely to die in an auto accident than through an airport security failure," Salter said in an e-mail Friday.
To overcome fears, Purdon suggests ground-bound travellers expose themselves slowly to the idea of being in the air. That could mean starting with just a trip to the airport or taking a course that helps them address their phobias.
"Exposure to the fear really, really works well," she said.
"People aren't going to become completely zero-anxiety," she said, but systematic exposure will help them take control of the situation.