Airlines face a long, hard winter after a much hoped-for rebound from the coronavirus crisis failed to materialise, prompting savage cost cutting programmes and fresh calls for government support.
“We are in a race against time. The key thing is to have the cash… we need to move quickly, very quickly,” said Stephane Albernhe, managing partner at Archery Strategy Consulting.
Airline revenues plunged 80 per cent in the first six months of the year, according to industry body IATA, but they still had fixed costs to cover — crew, maintenance, fuel, airport levies and now aircraft storage.
After a slight recovery in July as coronavirus restrictions were eased, traffic fell again in September while bookings for the winter season — which begins October 25 — are down 78 per cent compared with a year earlier, promising more hardship to come.
One of the biggest disappointments has been the absence of highly lucrative business class travellers who prefer now to rely on tele-conferencing rather than run the risk of catching the virus.