Airlines Not Coming Back in Big Numbers

No one knows how the Christmas travel season will shake out for the airlines, but indications aren’t encouraging.

The pilot’s union for Southwest Airlines is fighting a 10% pay cut at a time the CEO of Qatar Airlines says the worst isn’t even in their rearview mirror yet.

iHeartRadio’s air travel expert Jay Ratliff says the International Travel Association expects airlines will lose $77 billion in the second half of this year after coming off a treacherous first half. “Airline executives are saying this recovery may take 2,3 or 4 years, and in the case of Southwest their CEO said this recovery could take ten years to get us back to the travel levels we saw just earlier this year,” he tells KTRH News.

American and United Airlines executives have furloughed 32,000 workers.

Ratliff says airlines had thought instituting strenuous measures to ensure passenger safety during Covid might lure them back. It didn’t. They turned to strict mask mandates hoping that would convince passengers to return. It didn’t, and business is continuing to suffer. “When you compare the 2.3 million it should be to the 900,000 that we’re seeing is indicative of how far we have to go. We’re simply not seeing the demand for travel increasing.”

Ratliff says hurting airlines the most is the loss of the business traveler. Companies have learned that remote meetings are an economical way of conducting business and cutting the cost of air travel, hotels and meals. Airlines fear if the business traveler doesn’t return, the industry will suffer far more damage than it already has and models will have to change.

Photo: Getty Images

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