An Unimaginably Difficult Time For The Global Airline Industry

The depth and length of the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic on the air transport industry struck hard in October. In a grim update on the financial outlook for airlines, IATA said it expected them to burn through $77 billion in the second half of the year—or $300,000 per minute—and not become cash positive until 2022.

Second waves of the virus hit Europe and some parts of Asia, prompting governments in Italy, Spain the UK and other major economies to return to stronger lockdowns and border shutdowns. The number of deaths in the US passed 213,000, the highest of any country, and the number of cases was climbing in many states.

The result is a significantly lower demand for air travel for far longer than predicted when the pandemic began. Adding to the criticality of the situation, many government-aid packages for airlines, including some 36 payroll support programs, have expired. They were implemented when most governments were optimistic that the pandemic and economic situation would have improved by fall and demand for air travel would have recovered. Instead, air travel was down 75% in August versus a year ago and IATA forecasts it will still be down 68% by December.