Arguably the sector that has been dealt a crushing blow from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the aviation sector.
As countries now look at how China, Hong Kong and Singapore have controlled the spread of the virus, borders are closing and entire fleets of aircraft around the world are being grounded.
Travel is currently suspended for European citizens to the U.S. and to those who have traveled to Europe in the last 14 days.
The situation for aviation is critical. Job losses and financial damage to individual livelihoods will be near impossible to measure for several years to come.
Alex Cruz, the CEO of British Airways, which is one of Europe’s largest airlines, said that aircraft would be parked like never before and staff laid off. In a video message to employees Cruz said that “It is a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.”
The message itself was titled “The Survival of British Airways” which is a fairly bleak headline for one of the worlds more financially healthy airlines.
The last few years have seen a high number of airlines failing as they succumbed to competitive pressures. Jet Airways, Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines and recently Flybe are just a few of the casualties.
More than ever, airlines and the aviation industry needs support. Not just from governments in the short term as worldwide fleets are grounded with many countries closing off their borders temporarily, but also from consumers on the demand side.
No one knows exactly when the situation and freedom of movement globally will return to normal. Optimistic estimates look at a potential month of disturbances, but the real concern for airlines will be if demand robustly returns in the summer months.
Now bosses at Virgin Atlantic have pleaded with the U.K. government for £7.5 billion in support for British airlines alone.
Peter Norris, the chairman of Virgin Group will explain next week how tens of thousands of jobs are at risk to U.K. airlines as unprecedented challenges are faced.
The IATA trade body recently said that the COVID-19 outbreak could cost airlines $113 billion in lost revenue but with mass groundings still set to be announced in Europe this week, that figure is expected to increase.
Credit facilities will be needed from governments globally to ensure minimal job losses during this time of incredibly suppressed demand.
There are already some fantastic fares for later in the year being offered by airlines which I will publish shortly, but with many airlines offering free cancelation on bookings, if you plan to travel later in the year, and can afford to, now would be a fantastic time to support an industry and millions of employees in need of support.