The head of a U.S. airline industry trade body is set to tell a Senate hearing on Wednesday that airlines across the United States are collectively burning through $10 billion a month and that the industry will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis as a “mere shadow of what it was just three short months ago”. The comments from Nicholas Calio, chief executive of Airlines4America appear in congressional testimony that was obtained by Reuters ahead of the hearing.
Calio will claim that U.S. airlines are averaging just 17 passengers per flight on domestic services and a mere 29 passengers on international services. Airlines around the world have witnessed passenger demand plummet as a result of novel Coronavirus outbreak that has grounded thousands of planes around the world.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) believes that passenger revenues will plunge by as much as $314 billion as a result of the virus and has warned that any recovery will be slow and patchy. U.S. airlines alone have grounded nearly 3,000 planes – representing around 50 per cent of active aircraft in the country after being forced to cancel around 95 per cent of scheduled flights.
“The U.S. airline industry will emerge from this crisis a mere shadow of what it was just three short months ago,” Calio is expected to tell the Senate hearing.
“History has shown that air transport demand has never experienced a V-shaped recovery from a downturn,” Calio will continue – dismissing an initial assessment from IATA that air travel could experience a short, sharp shock from the pandemic which would be followed by a quick recovery.
Airlines, he will say, “anticipate a long and difficult road ahead.”
Airlines4America represents some of the biggest airlines in the United States and its members include American Airlines, Delta and United, as well as jetBlue, Southwest and Alaska. The trade body has backed the “voluntary” decision by its members to make the wearing of face masks mandatory for both crew and passengers.
IATA has also backed the idea of making the wearing of masks by passengers mandatory as a way of “increasing confidence” in the safety of air travel. The trade body suggested the policy could form part of an internationally agreed set of layered biosecurity rules, although it maintains the risk of being infected with COVID-19 remains low even without enhanced protection.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.