Airline Industry In Descent


The middle of LAX Airport on a Thursday afternoon during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Ryan, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has had a negative effect on almost every major company or industry, and the airline industry is no exception. The virus has tanked vacations for families, backfired on companies financially and caused distress for many pilots and flight attendants.

The pandemic has severely disrupted the airline industry in every aspect. Travel bans and advisories designed to restrict the spread of the virus have been set into place almost everywhere. Flight capacities have gone way down, and international flights are banned, causing airline industries to lose tons of money.

Italy had a 22% drop in flights as a result of the national lockdown set into place on March 9, 2020. Then on March 11, the United States enforced a 30 day ban on travelers from a free-travel zone consisting of 26 countries in Europe. Since then, all of the bans have been extended, further drawing out the pain for airlines.

Captain Patrick Ryan has been a pilot for Southwest Airlines for 15 years. He has been experiencing firsthand the effect the coronavirus has had, at Southwest specifically.

“It has been eerie in a way, because there are virtually no passengers or people walking through the terminals and gate areas. Recently there has usually been less than 15 passengers on my flights, and occasionally as few as only one or two. In this circumstance, the passengers get a personal welcome aboard and briefing,” Captain Ryan said.

On a personal level, travel for work has also been drastically different for the crew members, not just the passengers on the plane.

“Schedules are changing on an hourly basis. Something as simple as getting food has been difficult. Most of the vendors in the airports have shut down. Depending on which city you’re in, the overnights are much different. Instead of a nice dinner somewhere, it’s usually a struggle to find takeout, and then it’s eating in the hotel room. Gyms and all amenities are shut down,” Captain Ryan said.

With all the changes to air travel, airlines are also going to have to face severe financial complications. To put this in perspective, it is predicted that the airline industry will lose $63 billion-$113 billion in revenue. For a relative comparison, after the catastrophic event of 9/11, the airlines only fell by $23 billion dollars, which is nowhere close to the monstrous amounts of money the airlines are predicted to lose by the time the virus has passed. Those with healthcare insurance through airlines are also suffering as a result of the airlines losing such a drastic amount of money.

The airline industry is definitely taking one of the biggest punches thrown by the coronavirus. Revenue has sunk, flight capacities have gone way down and travel bans have taken away or postponed family or work trips. Have patience with individuals who are still working during this tough time, and extend a helping hand as much as possible!