In a USA Today article published yesterday, the lasting ramifications that the coronavirus pandemic will have on airlines is discussed. With each passing week, we are understanding more about the virus and when possible, restrictions could be lifted. As Quarter 1 earnings are starting to come out this week, eyes will be on major airlines as to how much damage the pandemic has had thus far. Delta Airlines has been the first to speak out in recent days, regarding their ideas about the future as well as their Q1 earnings.
In an earnings call earlier this week, Delta CEO said that he believes that even when stay at home orders are lifted, travelers will still not be flying. With unrestricted business travel not happening until phase 3 of the White House’s plan to reopen the economy, planes continue to be parked with no sign of movement in the near future. Delta reported a Q1 loss for the first time in five years, with passenger travel down by 95%. Basitan, Delta CEO, predicts a long recovery for the airline industry; he believes that it took take as long as 3 years to see a sustainable recovery.
Even with the reworking of business plans to shrink operations to match this much lowered demand, the question of job security also comes into question. If airlines receive government aid, they are not allowed to fire any employees as a stipulation of that aid. However, many flight attendants are worried about their jobs next year, when government money runs out and airlines continue to operate fewer flights.
It will be interesting and telling as to how air travel will continue in the future. Some industry experts have talked about seating layouts to change permanently and fewer seats on larger flights to ensure proper distancing in the future. With fewer seats, some also say that tickets could become more expensive and budget airlines will be a thing of the past. In order to maintain a good reputation in this industry, airlines need to continue putting their employees first and ensure customer safety on all flights. Letting passengers move seats to ensure distancing and the stoppage of beverage service on flights are only some of the steps airlines are taking to combat the coronavirus.