Will airlines recover from COVID-19 crisis?

Flights data year over year

I have been tracking planes in Hong Kong for few years now with my Raspberry Pi based ADSB trackers. There are few airports in range (Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Huizhou), which was giving me quite some traffic (about 2000-2200 different aircraft per day).

Then came COVID-19. Many international airlines stopped to come to China. Many domestic flights were cancelled too. And then the crisis went worldwide. Daily traffic dropped to 600 aircrafts per day at the peak of the crisis.

Since then, it has been slowly recovering. As China domestic traffic went back almost to normal, I am now at 1300-1400 aircraft per day, still far away from where it was.

Bad news are coming from everywhere… Cathay Pacific just announced they will suppress 6000 positions and stop Cathay Dragon. Many smaller airlines have been bankrupt. Most of the others have retired their old or not efficient aircraft earlier than initially planned (B747 and A380 are the most iconic ones).

And restrictions to international travels are still in place in many countries, while the epidemic is restarting in Europe, and never really slow down in US. Can the industry recover from such an unprecedented crisis? I wish it will! My bet is that it will take time and that it will have deeply modified the industry. 2020 will be a turning point in any case and resilience now has to be in every airline strategy.

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