Issue No. 787

European Recovery Derailed

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

Buckle up, everyone. It’s time for third-quarter earnings season, starting with Delta on Tuesday. The dominant theme across the industry, of course, will be the Covid crisis, and its ongoing decimation of travel demand. Seven months into the crisis — longer if you start from its origins in China — international demand is still largely a big zero. America’s domestic recovery leveled off at a fraction of normal. Internal demand within Europe is sadly trending similarly. The domestic skies are getting busy again in China, Vietnam, and a few other East Asian countries. Same for Russia, and to a lesser extent Brazil. Even where traffic is recovering, however, airlines aren’t earning nearly enough to arrest heavy losses. Not with sharply lower fares. And not without any contribution from international. 

Hardly surprisingly, then, that IATA’s doom-laden warnings are only getting doomier and gloomier. It’s now concerned with the industry’s expected cash drain this winter. Promising new treatments for Covid might help. So might Covid testing. Vaccines will surely help in time. But maybe not fast enough to save carriers with weaker balance sheets, especially as government aid programs expire.

EasyJet, despite a strong balance sheet and ample cash, wants more government help. So does Southwest, which absent an extension of federal payroll support, is asking unions for concessions. It’s separately adding new routes and destinations with the goal of generating more leisure and family-visit traffic. Back in Europe, things are getting interesting in Norway as Wizz Air adds domestic routes, Norwegian pleads for more survival aid, and a new startup prepares to enter. AirAsia X is in a last-ditch survival effort, as AirAsia itself retreats from Japan and reassesses things in India. India’s SpiceJet is going to London. And Japan Airlines is launching its new low-cost carrier Zip Air.

Happy Q3 earnings season everyone!   


“The crisis is deeper and longer than any of us could have imagined. And the initial support programs are running out. Today we must ring the alarm bell again.”

IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac, calling on governments to provide more relief.


April-June 2020 (3 Months)

  • Air Astana: -$40m ; -352%

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

Airline Weekly Lounge Live

The pandemic has the hotel and airline industries reeling. But how has the pandemic been different for both, and how are their prospects for recovery different? Skift Hospitality Reporter Cameron Sperance joins us for our weekly livestream, at 12 p.m. EDT, Monday, October 12. Registration is free for subscribers.

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On the earnings board atop last week’s issue, we incorrectly stated TAP Air Portugal’s loss figures for the first half of 2020. The figures we showed ($439m net, or $189m excluding special items) were actually for just the first quarter of the year. The correct first half figures, as accurately shown in the Weekly Skies section, were a $647m net loss, or $431m excluding items. Operating margin for the half was negative 66%.

Weekly Skies

Air Astana’s latest financial statements show a $40m net loss for the April-to-June quarter, with an operating margin at negative 352%. Not that the margin figure is all that meaningful, other than to highlight a situation of severely depressed revenues,…


In a downbeat week for Southwest (see labor section), there was some upbeat commentary about business travel. Dave Harvey, charged with generating more corporate business for Southwest, says he’s seeing a “nice pickup” in the segment. Speaking with Business Travel…


A boost for Boeing? Alaska Airlines, Reuters reports, might be on the verge of a new B737 MAX order. It has fewer than 40 on order currently, which isn’t enough to meet its longterm replacement needs. The airline still flies…

Landing Strip

Data from Airports Council International (ACI) paint a stark picture of how bad the pandemic has been for the airline and airport industries. Passenger traffic fell by 59% in the first half of 2020 compared with last year. International passenger…

State of the Unions

Even by the standards of this administration and the 116th Congress, last week was a  wild week, one that whipsawed the airline industry and its workers between hope and despair. And the week ended with no further clarity on whether…


Datalex, an Irish software company specializing in airline distribution solutions, cited four emerging trends at its annual shareholders meeting. One is that sales through digital direct channels (like an airline’s own web and mobile sites) are recovering at a faster…

Routes and Networks

Wizz Air smells blood in Norway. Early next month, the ultra-LCC will launch its first domestic routes within the country, focusing on three big ones from Oslo’s main airport: Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromso, each with multiple daily frequencies. That’s nothing…

Covid Crisis 2020

IATA, working with Airports Council International and others, continues its push to advance passenger Covid testing as a short-term way of safely reviving air travel. The industry is getting desperate, with the pandemic still preventing most international borders from reopening.…

Feature Story

For a time, it was looking good. Europe’s airlines, in shorthaul markets anyway, enjoyed a brief burst of demand as markets reopened early this summer. Certain holiday hotspots like Greece distinguished themselves for effective Covid containment. Same for Germany, a…

Around the World

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