West Link Airlines New
The pandemic pummelled airlines are retooling for 2021, trying to keep industry jobs on life support while strategically streamlining and dangling rock-bottom rates in the hopes customers return. From Boeing to bailouts, the aviation industry had one of its worst years in 2020, a radical comedown after a run of profits right up to coronavirus lockdowns.
Passenger volume fell from over 2 million daily at the beginning of March to a bottom of about 90,000 in mid-April, according to TSA checkpoint statistics, as stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions hit. While that number has since recovered, even the busy holiday season saw passenger volume at less than half what it was a year ago, with 1.2 million people traveling on Dec. 27, versus 2.6 million last year.
Book Today for The Best Quote
While it is too early to tell what impact Christmas travel will have on coronavirus infection rates, experts fear an additional spike, as was recorded after Thanksgiving travel. Economic recovery for airlines and other in-person industries hinges on a health recovery, and trying to put the latter before the former ultimately risks both.
Internationally, some carriers see opportunity in the crisis. Michael O’Leary, the outspoken CEO of discount Irish carrier Ryanair, told the Financial Times his airline could snap up routes and airport slots abandoned by some of his rivals. He also forecast consolidation in the industry, placing orders for the Boeing Max jet he predicts will be a “game-changer” for capacity and fuel efficiency.
“We have consistently been planning for a reasonably quick recovery and constantly disappointed,” he told the Financial Times. “What has changed is the vaccines are arriving… The issue for our industry is, is that recovery in May or August? We just don’t know.”