With the world still suffering from COVID-19 and with preventative lockdowns being enforced, the travel industry and airlines are paying a heavy price in terms of cancelled flight refunds and grounding of their fleet of aircraft, it poses the question will these airlines survive and what will happen next which our friends from RUSUK try to answer from their countries.
If the pandemic shows a slowdown of deaths and new cases in Britain very soon, it’s possible that some airlines could survive, and slowly rebuild. However, the Coronavirus figures are not encouraging at all. It’s going to be a long, long process to get back to anywhere approaching normality, whatever normality will be in the future.
And even though the vast majority of planes have now been grounded, they still need maintaining, so there are still ongoing costs with, in many cases, absolutely no income, and millions of refunds to pay out.
Add to that how many of us, right now, and for the foreseeable future, really want to mingle in a crowded airport and then travel on a plane bunched up with people coughing and sneezing? You know, we all have had to learn to do without stuff in the past few weeks, like air travel, that we used to take for granted. Now we know we can do it, maybe we are not ready to go back to the old ways of doing things, like stepping on a plane at every opportunity.
So let’s look at a few of the players here. Flybe have already gone. The start of the pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for the beleaguered company. Norwegian, a British company despite the name, also appear to be in deep trouble, especially after their massive fuel-price hedging went pear-shaped, due to the plummeting price of oil. I don’t expect them to survive.
Easyjet, who have grounded their entire fleet of 350, have said they can survive at the moment, but not for an unlimited period. And if they have to pay for all the new planes on order, their founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou says they will go bust. He was always against their expansion plans.
The flagship airline, British Airways, have grounded the vast majority of their fleet. Many of them are parked at provincial airports like Hurn in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. I doubt we will ever see their ageing fuel-guzzling Boeing 747s in the air again, and maybe not even their much newer Airbus 380s – a brilliant aircraft built at totally the wrong time. It’s interesting that BA does not agree with government support of ailing airlines, so it’s unlikely they will be asking for any. It’s going to be extremely tough going.
In any case, should the Tory government decide they will help the airlines, I wouldn’t trust a word they say. It would be foolish for the airlines to hope too much.
At the end of the madness, how much will we have to pay for flights compared to the beginning of the year? Will they be cheaper, to encourage us back on board, or will it be expensive beyond many people’s means as the poor airlines try to recoup some of the billions they have lost? A real conundrum for all of us to ponder over the next few months. It will get very messy indeed.
Can any airline in my country survive?
When the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold, the Russian government determined dozens of the so-called ‘system-establishing’ companies, both state and private, taking into account its importance to the economy and the employment. Its number has been defined as 646, just falling 20 short of the Number of the Beast. There’s a variety of companies, from energy sector to banks to trade chains and hi tech.
The airlines, of course, have made it onto the list. By the way, ‘Pobeda’ (Victory) low-coster, an Aeroflot subdivision, and S7 airlines, flying to Cyprus, both are on the list. Altogether, there are eight names, including the cargo giant ‘Volga-Dnepr’.
Being in the list is basically a guarantee that the government will support you and won’t let you go bankrupt in case of such a possibility.
Focusing on the Russian airlines’ future fate, I’d feel comfortable on its survival. Probably there are some smaller air carriers in Russia (excluding the subsidiaries of the Big Eight) but, surely, they’re meant to fight for survival – just like most of the Russian companies and citizens. Why? Simply because the government doesn’t, at this moment, seem to help the economy on the scale the West does it: around 10 per cent of the GDP or more. So far, in Russia it is only about 1,5 – 2 per cent of the GDP. This thing raises lots of questions – but this is a different story.
On the other hand, by June the virus restrictions I expect to gradually be lifted. Not even because there will be victory over the virus but simply because otherwise the economy will be dead.
Lots of small businesses – I know those people first hand – in Russia are already in dire straits with Vladimir Putin urging owners to continue paying the wages without any tangible government support in sight. He’s basically saying: pay the wages out of your pocket and I don’t care if you go bust. But, again, this is a different story.
But when it comes to the airlines, I feel like they’re on a much safer ground.
We Be Stupid
Americans are not like regular humans, we got us an extra serving of stupid. Consider this: the most hated airline in the US is United and they deserve it. They suck. They suck so hard even their CEO says they need to straighten up. Everybody hates United… I have a score to settle with that nasty-assed lady working the gate counter in O’Hara.
So, now that you know the above (we be stupid and we hate United), you will understand why we pick United more than any other airline. They are the biggest because they have earned it.
Of course there are possibly other reasons, like they have purchased rights to slots at busy airports and there is little choice. Or the US Federal Aviation Administration defends the domestic airlines by not allowing foreign airlines to fly domestically. That way they can all suck jointly; safe in the knowledge that Singapore Airlines will not have the chance to crush em’.
These guys have it made. They are gaud awful and they will demand the government give them free money because of the virus. They need not lose sleep, they will get it. Better yet, president drain the swamp has already fired the guy who was supposed to be in charge of the watchdog organization overseeing the cash. And no, he will not be replaced. Can’t have little things like the law get in the way of skimming a bit for yourself.
So worry not… the US taxpayer will pay and these guys will not go under. The US Airlines can choose between grants and loans. Yes, I just said that. As far as I know, nobody has yet to apply for a loan. Did I mention the we be stupid part?