Losing even one in 10 customers would substantially reduce airlines' revenue. They don't make much money [telegraph.co.uk] on each flight as it is; less income would likely cause them to shrink their service, flying fewer routes less frequently.
The problem wouldn't just be customers who chose not to fly. Some passengers might split trips between self-driving cars and airplanes, which would further reduce airlines' revenue. For instance, a person in Savannah, Georgia, who wants to go to London could choose to change planes in Atlanta [howstuffworks.com]—or take a self-driving car to the Atlanta airport, and skip the layover.
These changes could substantially change the aviation industry, with airlines ordering fewer airplanes from manufacturers, airports seeing fewer daily flights and lower revenue from parking lots, and even airport hotels hosting fewer guests. The future of driverless cars is appealing to consumers—which means the future of commercial flight is in danger.
A personal fondling session from a TSA agent named Brad, or 5 hours in your self-driving Mazda that your four-year old smeared peanut butter in?