Issue No. 790

LUV in the Time of Covid

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

As election day looms in America, the country’s airline gave more evidence of travelers willing and eager to fly but deterred by closed borders and quarantine policies. Hawaii is a good example: As the state substitutes quarantines with testing, airlines see bookings take off.

The same is largely true in Europe. When the U.K. removed Spain’s Canary Islands from the quarantine list, bookings took off. So said British Airways, whose parent company reported predictably heavy losses. Air France/KLM, on the other hand, posted unpredictably mild losses thanks to lots of longhaul family-visit markets, leisure travel within France, KLM’s busy Amsterdam hub, and a widebody fleet well-equipped for the cargo boom. Wage subsidies helped too, though government loans are at risk following pilot discord at KLM.

Three airlines from mainland China were notable for their post-Covid recoveries. Shanghai’s Juneyao and Spring, both controlled by the private sector, managed small operating profits last quarter by moving international capacity back into the increasingly busy domestic market. China Southern, meanwhile, benefitting from problems at Hainan Airlines, came close to joining them in the black. (Its net result was actually positive but lifted by one-off gains).    

Japan’s Big Two airlines, enjoying early stages of a domestic recovery, see newly launched LCCs equipped with Dreamliners as key to their eventual recoveries on foreign routes. In India, domestic leader IndiGo expects to emerge from the crisis stronger than before, with the help of more Airbus NEOs, more digitization, more cost cutting, and ultimately a return to bullish capacity growth. It’s still most bullish about international markets, though not yet convinced of the wisdom of widebodies.     


“We believe there will be incredible generational opportunities to purchase planes in the coming years.”  

Allegiant President John Redmond


July-September 2020 (3 Months)

  • Air France/KLM: -$1.9b/-$1.2b*; -41%
  • IAG: -$2b/-$1.4b*; -105%
  • All Nippon: -$750m/-$863m*; -72%
  • Japan Airlines: -$636m; -80%
  • Air China: -$87m/-$270m*; -10%
  • China Eastern: -$88m/-$331m*; -17%
  • China Southern: $135m/-$28m; -2%
  • Hainan Airlines: -$563m/-$581m; -47%
  • Juneyao Airlines: $28m/-$2m; 3%
  • Spring Airlines: $38m/-$4m; 2%
  • JetBlue: -$393m/-$477m*; -128%
  • Spirit: -$99m/-$215m*; -62%
  • Hawaiian: -$97m/-$173m*; -287%
  • Allegiant: -$29m/-$69m*; -39%
  • SkyWest: $34m/-$156m*; -25%
  • IndiGo: -$161m; -52%
  • Finnair: -$232m; -171%
  • Icelandair: $38m (includes unspecified one-off gains); -5%

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

Skift Aviation Forum November 19

Join us for the inaugural Skift Aviation Forum, held online in partnership with Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport. Guests include Air Lease Corp. Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy, American Airlines President Robert Isom, and Southwest CEO Gary Kelly. You can check out the latest list of confirmed speakers here. Registration is free for annual Airline Weekly subscribers.

Airline Weekly Lounge Live

A recording of this week's edition with special guest Brett Snyder of Cranky Flier is now live.

Weekly Skies

It was a major margin laggard in the pre-crisis era. What now, are Air France’s chances to exit the Covid era on stronger footing relative to its peers? Can KLM emerge from the darkness just as strong as it was…


The Washington Post looks at Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which was flying high in 2019. It placed an order for new XLR Airbus jets. It grabbed slots at key airports like Newark. It announced a new Miami crew base and a…


Airbus noted that although traffic had begun to recover slightly, new viral outbreaks and ever-changing travel restrictions have resulted in airlines paring back. The inability to forecast the future is one reason why the airframer, which first withdrew its full-year…

State of the Unions

Delta and the leadership of its pilot union reached a tentative deal that would prevent furloughs until Jan. 1, 2022. The carrier previously had said as many as 1,900 pilots could lose their jobs on Nov. 1. The deal, struck…

Landing Strip

Groupe ADP, which runs the two main airports serving Paris, now faces another severe wave of Covid infections in the French capital, leading to lockdowns on people and businesses. During the brief summer months when traffic within Europe showed signs…

Covid Crisis 2020

Delta and WestJet received U.S. DOT approval to proceed with their planned joint venture. But it comes with caveats. WestJet’s lower-cost Swoop unit cannot be part of the agreement. The two carriers must surrender eight roundtrip slots at New York…

Feature Story

Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Watterson spoke to Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan last week about the carrier’s evolving network strategy and why outdoor adventures, as he put it, are fueling Southwest’s traffic now. (This interview has been edited and…

Around the World

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