Poll: Is There A Way To Regain Confidence In Public Air Travel Other Than A Vaccine?

Executives at United Airlines predict the slow recovery in air travel demand will reach a ceiling of around half of 2019 levels, at which point they expect traffic to remain broadly static until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes widely available.

“We continue to believe a full recovery is contingent upon effective therapeutics and a vaccine,” United CEO Scott Kirby said on the company’s 2020 second quarter (Q2) earnings call. “Our best guess is demand will recover over time to be down approximately 50%, and then plateau at that level until a vaccine is widely distributed.”

Kirby declined to estimate how long it will take for demand to reach 50% of 2019’s level, but said he thinks the recovery will be “rapid” once a vaccine is ready for mass distribution. Still, he doesn’t see that happening until late 2021 at the earliest, suggesting a view that demand will remain below half its former level for at least another year.

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