Struggling airlines seek to stay in the skies

File: The restrictions put into place to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit airlines hard, making travel impossible or difficult. AFP/Federico Parra

PARIS - The airline industry holds its annual gathering by video conference next week under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic that has plunged the sector into a crisis that may yet claim more carriers.

The restrictions put into place to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit airlines hard, making travel impossible or difficult. 

Airlines grounded nearly their entire fleets during the first wave of the pandemic.

READ: Africa airline industry lost $55bn from COVID-19 shutdowns

After hitting a low point in April, air traffic began to gradually increase, before slowing once more as the spread of the coronavirus accelerated again.

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) expects traffic to down by 66 percent for 2020 as a whole.

The industry's trade body believes the traffic won't return to its 2019 level before 2024 -- an estimation based on the expectation of a vaccine becoming available in mid-2021.

READ: US airlines to end year with 90,000 fewer workers

It forecasts the revenue of airlines to come in at $419-billion, half of the 2019 level.

Airlines have already shed tens of thousands of jobs as they try to stay afloat, and according to a survey conducted by IATA in October, 59 percent intend to cut more positions in the coming year.

Airlines for America, the trade body for US airlines, estimates that 90,000 jobs will have been shed between March and December.

"To reach the level of productivity of recent years the number of jobs needs to be cut by 40 percent," IATA estimates.

Source
AFP