Updated: Apr 5, 2020
( 23 March 2020) - It comes as no surprise that Covid-19, apart from wreaking havoc worldwide is also causing many major airlines to ground aircraft, cancel routes and in some cases even go belly up. Airlines such as Qantas, Lufthansa, and Air France have grounded their fleet of Airbus A380s plus other aircraft due to dwindling demand and strict border restrictions hampering travel. Smaller airlines such as Ryanair and Jetstar Asia have also suspended all flights, effectively grounding its entire fleet.
Most airlines could buffer the flight suspensions and survive for a short while, while others such as FlyBe has gone bankrupt, owing to the lack of demand caused by the coronavirus and an already poor financial health. The final blow came when they failed to secure financial bailouts from the banks and/or government.
Meanwhile, in China, airlines such as Air China and China Eastern are stay afloat with aid provided by the Chinese Government. Beijing has also promised over $3bn in financial bailout plan.
In Europe, airlines such as Lufthansa, SAS, and KLM is in talks with the EU government about financial support. Norwegian Air Shuttle a UK based LCC which is in the process of restructuring has temporarily laid off over 50% of its staff and SAS, the flag carrier of Norway, Denmark and Sweden have laid off over 90% of its staff. KLM is also in the process of laying off over 2000 members of its staff.
Even with the current falling fuel prices, airlines will only feel the benefit later on, due to having previously locked in higher fuel prices. In a recent revision by IATA, it is projected the airline industry can lose up to about 157 billon US dollars due to the virus pandemic. Border restrictions aren't doing airlines any favours too with many countries implementing entry restrictions to foreigners. Such in the case of the United States, as President Donald Trump banned flights from Europe and other infected countries. The US is not alone in shutting down their borders and going into lockdown, with countries like Malaysia, Grace, Italy and more shutting all travel in and out of their borders.
If the SARs crisis of 2003 was any indication, the airline industry may not fully recover from the impacts caused by the virus quickly, and we will see changes to the landscape of the airline world as we know it. How this new landscape will look? Only time will tell.