Although passenger airlines operate cargo or evacuation flights, the volume of such traffic is incomparably lower than before the COVID crisis. According to Flightradar, which tracks aircraft movements, the number of flights worldwide has dropped from 176,000 to 67,000 per day (if we compare early March and mid-April 2020). The size of the airlines’ workload has decreased significantly, so many of them had to cut employees.
In particular, the Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced that it would lay off 1,000 employees – nearly one in five workers of the company. The decision was taken due to the fact that the airline uses only 3% of its operating capacity, which was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe’s largest low-cost jetliner, Ryanair, also reported possible layoffs. Right now, the airline has not yet laid off a single employee.
“We have guaranteed all our employees that we will maintain payroll. If the flight ban continues, I think we will lay off employees,” head Michael O’Leary told Reuters in a comment.
How do airlines survive?
A Singapore airline is offering those wishing to dine or dine aboard a giant Airbus A380 airliner stranded at the city’s airport due to a drop in traffic caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the price of a meal and service comes to nearly $500, tickets for the first two sessions sold out in half an hour. The on-board program is designed to last three hours. In addition to food and drink, attendees are treated to a movie.
The plane is designed for 850 passengers, but is only half-filled to comply with social distance rules.
The company plans to convert another aircraft into a restaurant and movie theater. Food can also be ordered takeaway along with branded plates and appliances.
Taiwan’s Eva and Australia’s Qantas are advertising “flights to nowhere” on a round-trip route with landing at the departure airport – for those longing for the atmosphere of air travel.
Singapore Airlines also considered the idea, but in the end decided to keep the airbus-restaurants on the ground.
The air carriers are struggling to find ways to partially recoup their losses from the pandemic.
Singapore Airlines is worse off than others because it is based in the city-state and cannot count on resuming domestic flights.
In September, they had to cut a fifth of their staff, 4,300 people. Most of the fleet stands at an airfield in Alice Springs, Australia.
What is the prognosis?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an association of 290 airlines, predicts that traffic in 2020 will drop threefold from the previous year.
In a less optimistic scenario, IATA expects air traffic to recover in a pattern similar to the letter “U”: after the sharp decline, there will be a period during which air traffic will be at a minimum level, and then start to increase in flight numbers. In this case, the restoration of the airline industry should not be expected before September 2021, the drop in passenger traffic will be 1.11 billion people, and industry losses will be $218-253 billion.
Shift Frequency © 2021 – Flights to Nowhere and a
Restaurant in an Airbus. How Do Airlines Adapt to the Pandemic?