Once crippled by pandemic, airlines see rapid recovery ahead

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“No matter the headlines, no matter how the market turns, we always tend to see bookings bounce back the fastest, the earliest and the best in these markets,” said Vasu Raja, chief revenue officer of ‘American.

United said they expected to be able to make money even with a 35% drop in corporate and long-haul international travel. (Both are currently down around 80%.) Airline chief executive Scott Kirby has said he’s confident United will beat their 2019 profits in 2023.

While airlines in the United States have become optimistic about the future, airlines elsewhere in the world are still struggling. Demand and supply are expected to recover more in North America this year than in any other region of the world, according to the International Air Transport Association. Demand for flights offered by North American airlines is expected to decline by around 42% this year, while airlines in regions like the Middle East and Europe, where most flights cross borders, may expect demand to drop by more than 66%, according to the association. mentionned.

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But the experience of flying to the United States in the coming months will be significantly different from that of 2019. Airlines are expected to keep many of their pandemic policies in place, including requiring passengers to wear masks. Some people on domestic flights may find themselves on the larger jets that were previously only used for long international trips.

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Flight paths can also be different. Throughout the pandemic, passengers have tended to favor outdoor destinations – beaches, mountains, ski slopes – in states that have not imposed strict lockdown rules. Few of those who have made it to parts of the Northeast, California and major cities have remained largely closed, but that could change as those areas open up. New York City recently dropped a quarantine requirement for international travelers and said this week it plans to spend $ 30 million on a global marketing campaign to attract tourists.

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While a few small airlines have closed during the pandemic, large companies have been able to cope. Congress has provided the industry with more than $ 50 billion in aid to help keep pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and other workers employed. The government has also provided $ 25 billion in loans. All this assistance came with conditions, including a ban on share buybacks, a restriction on dividends and limits on executive compensation.