A week ago this level of cuts to airline route networks seemed beyond the pale. Now, it appears to be just the start.
Airplanes and Airports
The past couple weeks offered up plenty of pain for the airline industry. There is, however, the occasional bit of fun, interesting or even good news coming through in response to the problems. Here are a few of those more positive stories to consider.
Expect to see another tranche of significant cuts from airlines in the coming days, lasting through June 2020. EU regulators are the latest to approve a change to the way airport slots are accounted for, opening up the opportunity for carriers to trim flights and conserve cash as the COVID-19 crisis wears on.
American Airlines’ route change announcements last night are as much an indicator of the company’s expectations for the years to come as they are the immediate needs of the airline. It is an interesting shift in how the global industry is addressing the COVID-19 challenges.
Looking to visit the United States in the next month? If you’ve been in Europe’s Schengen zone that is going to be a problem. As of 13 March 2020 the US will block arrivals for all non-residents that spent time in Schengen in the 14 days prior to entering the USA.
American Airlines joined the Summer 2020 schedule cut party overnight, announcing several international routes that will not operate until at least October and a 7.5% cut in domestic capacity for April. The carrier also dramatically improved its change fee waiver policy, making it easier for passengers to reconsider otherwise non-refundable travel plans.
Spirit Airlines is cutting its operations in April as demand drops in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Unlike some other carriers, however, the company is not shrinking.
Qantas is the latest major carrier to announce significant changes to its schedule in the wake of the coronavirus demand drop. Not only with the company make significant reductions in its international operations, but it plans for those changes to last until mid-September 2020, the furthest out any airline has made changes yet. The carrier will swap types, reduce frequencies and suspend or delay some routes completely.
What a week. In the face of the steepest global demand drop airlines have seen in a decade the cuts came, quick and deep. The COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak will upend commercial aviation this year. The big question now is just how much, and what the longer-term impact will look like.
Wednesday evening marked the end for embattled British regional airline Flybe. The carrier entered administration (a UK version of bankruptcy protection) and ceased operations. All future flights are canceled, leaving passengers, airports and employees across the United Kingdom to wonder what the future holds.