Issue No. 780

European Airlines' Summer of Anguish

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

Finally, an airline that actually made money last quarter. Two of them actually. Korean Air and its hometown rival Asiana, both cargo power players even in normal times, reported solid Q2 profits as yields for shipping goods rose dramatically. The cargo yield boom (volumes were down) gave Lufthansa a boost too, but not nearly enough to offset giant losses from its multi-branded passenger operations. The Lufthansa Group is happy to see some Europeans taking Mediterranean holidays again. But even coupled with the positive cargo trends, this doesn’t negate the need to become much smaller, meaning big job cuts and many fewer planes. The same is true for easyJet, shrinking as well, never mind its lack of longhaul exposure.

Japan Airlines too, is grappling with industry’s greatest shock ever, taking only modest solace in having a large domestic market not subject to as many travel restrictions. An early-summer increase in domestic bookings, however, is starting to stall as Covid cases rise. Panama’s Copa, alas, doesn’t even have a domestic market. Just getting planes back in the air will be a big milestone.

Elsewhere, Virgin Australia unveiled a recovery plan. U.S. airlines are pushing for more payroll support. Sadly, an Air India Express accident killed 18 people, adding more grief to what’s already the worst year ever for airlines.     


“Aviation has bounced back before. We can and will do so again, and we may and must change for the better in the process.”

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr

Mondays With Skift Airline Weekly

Join Senior Analyst Jay Shabat and Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan for a livestream about this issue and how the second quarter played in Europe. We'll take your questions live on air. Join us at 12 p.m. Eastern, on Monday, Aug. 10. Registration is free for subscribers.


April-June (3 Months)

  • Lufthansa: -$1.66b; -89%
  • Japan Airlines: -$871m; -170%
  • Korean Air: $133m/$4m*; 9%
  • Asiana: $95m; 14%
  • Jeju Air: -$68m; -235%
  • Garuda: -$600m/-$510m*; -368%
  • Copa: -$386m/-$115m*; -748%

*Net result in USD/*Net result excluding special items/ Operating margin

Weekly Skies

Europe, unlike the U.S., is getting the shorthaul summertime travel boom that airlines hoped for. It’s not really a boom of course, just a murmur of life after several months of nothingness. Carriers are filling planes though — Lufthansa said…


Financially strong aircraft lessors appear more or less relaxed about the airline industry’s epic meltdown. Count Air Lease Corp. (ALC) among them, feeling reassured by early signs of recovery, by stabilizing airline balance sheets thanks to prodigious public aid, and…

Landing Strip

Airports Council International-Europe called the second quarter “disastrous,” pointing to an almost complete collapse in demand at airports across greater Europe (which includes markets like Russia). Traffic fell more than 96% y/y. In the first half, traffic fell 64% y/y.…

State of the Unions

Oct. 1 could be a day of reckoning for the industry, as airlines let go tens of thousands of employees the day after the CARES Act payroll support program ends. Companies are required to send WARN Act notices if they…


Southwest and Alaska are among the U.S. carriers that are strengthening or clarifying their facial-covering policies. Alaska was the most blunt. “No mask, no travel, no exceptions,” the carrier said. Southwest, meanwhile, issued details guides on the kinds of masks…

Routes and Networks

When asked earlier this month about its latest thoughts on intercontinental flying, IndiGo explained that cheap fuel makes the opportunity more enticing. SpiceJet apparently thinks so. It secured slots to serve London Heathrow from Sept. 1 through the end of…

Covid Crisis 2020

IATA’s business confidence survey found airline CFOs in a sad state of mind. Most believe profits will remain elusive for another year. Airlines may be forced to slash fares in order to stimulate demand, denting further already squashed hopes of…

Feature Story

Most of Europe’s major airlines have now reported their Q2 financial results, including the Big Three carriers Lufthansa, Air France/KLM, and IAG. The results, needless to say, were ugly. Carriers with big cargo operations like Lufthansa and KLM saw losses…

Around the World

A look at the world’s airlines, including end-of-week equity prices