US Airlines Brace For Volatility in Second Half of 2020 | Who's Going To Fail?
“We think it will take domestic traffic three to five years to recover to 2019 levels, and international traffic five to seven years to recover,” says Helane Becker, senior research analyst who covers aviation for Cowen Securities, “especially if the virus remains uncontained.”
“One lesson from the pandemic is that smaller airfields with just a handful of scheduled commercial flights will be more likely to lose puddle-jumper connections.”
“Ultra-low-cost carriers like Spirit, Allegiant Air, and Frontier Airlines will be prime beneficiaries...low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers will be most successful as the crisis drags on, not only because they focus on cost-conscious travellers, but also because they have lower costs themselves.”
“They [ULCC] only operate one fleet type, they tend not to have widebodies, only narrowbodies – which are easier to mothball and redeploy,” he says. Additionally, ULCC “pilot salaries are much lower, they don’t have global alliance membership dues and they don’t have to maintain fancy airport lounges.”
“The backtracking [in June and July] is disappointing and unfortunate,” says Becker. “People want to travel, but quarantine rules are limiting where people can go and the fact that things aren’t really open means there isn’t a lot to do once you get there.”
“Business travel will be slow to recover, but leisure travel is likely to spike. Unemployment rates notwithstanding, there were millions of leisure trips cancelled in the first half of the year, [and] most of that money is still in the bank.”
“Ultimately, airlines and analysts agree sustainable recovery will require passengers to return – no amount of cost-squeezing and liquidity-injecting will end the crisis. Several carriers made clear this week they do not expect broad recovery until a Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available.”
Gary Kelly: 5-10 Years for Business Travel to Recovery
Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines was interviewed for Yahoo! Finance in an informative 13-minute interview.
"At a point, you just can't make people fly.”
“You can't send out a memo and say, 'thou shalt travel from A to B’,” he said. “In economic recessions, it's classic that business travel will be cut very sharply.”
"I think business travel will be very slow to recover, and my guess is that it will take five to 10 years for business travel to fully recover to 2019 levels,” he said. “So it's a low-cost environment for a long time.”
“I’m not sure there is a lot more that we can do differently.”
"The analogy is a patient in intensive care — you are just trying to get through it," he said. "You're trying to survive and you'll worry about the future later."
Whether you are Ed Bastian of Delta expecting a “choppy” recovery, Scott Kirby at United looking at a “jagged” recovery, or Spirit looking at a “rocky” recovery, the dip in passengers numbers over the last week showcase what Gary Kelly said; “We are like a patient in intensive care.”
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