Issue No. 765

Another Virgin Lost

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

Let’s start with a bit of good news for a change., a British LCC, says people are now booking holidays for late summer and beyond. Air Arabia and Etihad are moving forward with a new low-cost venture. Ditto for Japan Airlines. More major carriers, including Air France/KLM, now have government support that buys them at least a few more months if not quarters of survival, even absent any revenue. Several low-cost carriers expressed tempered optimism about leisure and family-visit traffic recovering — partially, anyway — by yearend. One of those low-cost carriers, Mexico’s Volaris, even reported a first quarter operating profit.

These are some faint examples of green shoots amid what unfortunately remains a horrifically bad situation overall. Delta, reporting its first Q1 operating loss in almost a decade, has an enormous war chest of cash now, yes. But to build it, the airline had to borrow billions of dollars, mortgage much of its asset base, and surrender a potential ownership stake to its government. It wouldn’t be surprised if the industry took three years to fully recover. 

So it will be a smaller global airline industry in the foreseeable future, as Aeromexico, Lufthansa, United, and others have joined Delta in suggesting. Virgin Australia will surely be smaller, if it survives at all after filing for bankruptcy last week. Air Mauritius filed for bankruptcy too. The fate of South African Airways, already in bankruptcy before the crisis, hinges on labor concessions. Norwegian’s fate could be determined at a shareholder meeting next week.  

This week, more earnings, or lack thereof, from most major U.S. carriers. They’ll talk more about matters of survival, but maybe too shed a few more glimmers of hope.


"We're prepared at Delta…We've got the liquidity. We've got the balance sheet strength. We've got the resiliency of our people, and our brand. We'll get through this. It may take several years to get through it, but we will get through it.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian


January-March (3 months)

  • Delta: -$534m/ /-$326m*; -5%
  • Aeromexico: -$126m; -13%  
  • Volaris: -$75m/$17m*; 4%

Net result in USD; operating margin
*Net profit excluding special items (all operating figures exclude special items)


Watch a recording of Skift Airline Weekly staff discussing this issue and taking questions from readers.

Weekly Skies

Pessimism, but not despair. That describes the short- to medium-term sentiment at Delta, arguably the strongest airline in the world before entering what’s become the industry’s greatest crisis ever. As with all passenger airlines during the current Covid-19 pandemic, its…


Is IAG proceeding with its takeover of Air Europa? The deal is still moving forward, reports Spain’s Cinco Dias. But there’s a clause in the sale contract that triggers a price reduction in the event of serious deterioration of Air…

Sky Money

It was a crazy week in the oil market. Really crazy. The craziness, more specifically, occurred in the oil futures market, where the May contract price for West Texas Intermediate oil (WTI), dropped to negative $40. Huh? It basically meant…


As Boeing wiped its tears in 2019, it couldn’t imagine that 2020 would be worse. A lot worse. The latest headache? B737 MAXs were reasonably close to getting back in the air before further delays arose last week. The Wall…

State of the Unions

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is joining IATA in calling for more government aid for airlines. The groups urged governments around the world to step up the amount of state financial aid to airlines to protect jobs in the…

Landing Strip

ACI-Europe joined a host of European aerospace and other companies to urge Europe to act more cohesively in response the Covid pandemic. The response thus far, the signatories say, has been led by member states and has resulted in a…

Routes and Networks

Even in these darkest of times, Air Arabia and Etihad are moving ahead with plans for a new Abu Dhabi-based LCC. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi received its operating license last week, though it didn’t give a launch date. That will…

Covid Crisis 2020

There’s still no airline industry consensus on when exactly people will start travelling again. But there is general agreement now that domestic demand will return earlier than international demand, particularly longhaul international demand. IATA shares that view, as its director…

Feature Story

Virgin America, Virgin Express, Virgin Sun, Virgin Nigeria, Virgin Samoa, Little Red… all gone. Same for Virgin Connect, the would-be name for Flybe, the first airline victim of the current virus crisis. Flybe’s part owner Virgin Atlantic, the very first…