The Airline Industry in the Wake of Coronavirus


Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, air travel has been one of the most affected industries.

According to The Guardian, airlines are facing multi-billion dollar losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and people's reaction to the virus.

Airlines are cancelling hundreds of flights and freezing pay as a result in this harsh drop in demand. The future of the airline industry is shaky and uncertain. One thing is clear: the effects of coronavirus on airlines are numerous, and the industry is going to take a long time to fully recover.

For many airlines, the next months could be grim. These companies have suffered massive financial losses and are struggling to handle the sharp drop in demand. According to Reuters, international seat capacity has dropped by 80% from 2019, and as coronavirus cases continue to climb, that number only seems likely to rise.

In the United States, airlines have applied for payroll grants in an effort to survive. This may help them to mitigate some of their losses. Still, such measures may not be enough to keep smaller airlines from disappearing entirely. 

Airport slots

An unexpected way that coronavirus may affect Airlines has to do with the way takeoff and landing zones are allocated.

The high-demand nature of these zones means that if an airline is unwilling or unable to make use of these zones, the spots are given to another airline. Now, with all the flight cancellations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, airlines are afraid that they may lose their slots.

According to The Guardian, many airlines are urging airports with such regulations to temporarily change these policies to ensure that airlines will retain their slots. If airlines lose these slots, it will make it harder for them to return to the status quo after the pandemic.

Keeping customers happy

Still, in spite of their losses, airlines are doing their best to maintain the loyalty of flyers.

U.S. airlines are freezing the benefits of their loyalty programs until next year, allowing members who are stuck at home to gain their benefits once the virus has passed. This may help to encourage people to resume their travel after the world begins to return to normal. Airlines have also offered some refunds on flights booked for the next two months. American Airlines is cutting 90% of its international flights in April and May, and many other airlines worldwide are following suit.

Non essential travel 

Even more than the cancelled flights, one of the biggest challenges airlines are going to face is the rapid move away from recreational travel. It will take an even longer time to rebuild consumer confidence after the panic caused by country-wide lockdowns, flight cancellations, and other travel restrictions. It is likely that many will choose to forgo non-essential travel even after coronavirus has been addressed.

In a world struck by a worldwide pandemic, it is impossible to know for certain what the future will bring. For the airline industry, that future is even more uncertain. Airlines are currently suffering severe monetary losses, as well as many rapid changes that throw the structure of their industry into a state of disarray.

Even optimistic estimates seem to suggest that it will take at least three years for the airline industry to fully recover from losses suffered as a result of coronavirus. The true extent of the damage suffered remains to be seen. It is hard to know how badly the virus has affected airlines, as infected countries and cancelled flights continue to increase.

Ph: Belikova Oksana /

Benjamin Hild
Benjamin Hild
Benjamin Hild is a writer and artist from Elgin, Il. In 2018, he moved to Italy to study English Writing, Literature, and Publishing at the American University of Rome and has contributed a number of poems and short stories to the university's creative writing publication. He is currently set to graduate in the spring of 2020.
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