When asked if a major carrier could go out of business given the prediction that the industry could take 3 to 5 years to return to normal, Calhoun said, “Yes, most likely.
“Something will happen when September comes around. Traffic levels will not be back to 100 percent. They won’t even be back to 25 percent. So there will definitely be adjustments that have to be made on the part of the airlines,” he added.
“I believe it’s three full years before we return to the traffic levels that we had just in 2019, and then probably another two before we begin to return to the growth rates that we used to have,” Calhoun told the show’s host, Savannah Guthrie. “And I’m hopeful that somewhere between here and there, there’s a vaccine, and that the moment of high anxiety begins to really subside. But I still believe in the future of the industry.”
US Airlines are currently dividing their time between planning for an uncertain future and scrambling to respond to the coronavirus, and the tiered and erratic re-openings of regional lockdowns across the country.
At a recent congressional hearing, Airlines for America CEO, Nicholas Palio stressed that the airlines were working to secure safe and socially distanced environments to create a flying experience that consumers would feel safe using as these lockdowns ease.
This “safe” flying zone includes mandatory mask wearing, a “new normal,” that passengers are increasingly being asked to embrace.
However, Reuters recently obtained a memo from American Airlines to its pilots, also reported by CNN, that stated once on board flights, the “face covering policy will become more lenient.”
Crew are being advised to “use situational awareness to de-escalate the situation” if passengers refuse to wear masks on board.
Airlines have stated that continuing social distancing on flights and keeping middle seats empty will necessitate ticket price increases of up to 50 percent, another challenge for continued profitability.