Issue No. 797

Airlines' Year of Transition

Is This the Year Airlines Recover From 2020, or Will it Take Longer?

Note From the Editor

Welcome to the new Airline Weekly. To say the airline industry has changed since we launched in 2004 is an understatement. Similarly, the way we consume news and information has changed remarkably over the last 17 years. And because of that, we've been hard at work over the last few months rethinking the way we cover the news. We listened to you, our readers, on how you read Airline Weekly, what you liked and what you wanted more of. Today's issue is the culmination of that work.

In case you missed the news last month, we've brought on two new members of our team. Airlines reporter Edward Russell and contributor Ruthy Muñoz joined us in December, and this is the first issue of Airline Weekly in which you'll be able to read their work. I'm thrilled to welcome both these journalists to Airline Weekly.

I'm proud of the work we did, and I always value your opinion. Please drop me a line at and let me know what you think.

-- Madhu Unnikrishnan, Editor

Pushing Back: Inside This Issue

Last year was one the all of us would like to forget. But will this year be any better for the airline industry? A newly resurgent coronavirus is rampaging in the U.S. and in Europe, and although the development of effective vaccines is a miracle of science, the distribution of those vaccines has been less impressive, especially in the U.S. Demand is unlikely to come back in any meaningful way until more people are vaccinated (or the virus is brought fully to heel through public-health measures, as has happened in China, New Zealand, and other countries.)

In other news, the B737 MAX is back. After being greenlighted to return last year, more airlines in the U.S. and Latin America are putting the type back into their fleets. So far, we found fear isn't making passengers book away from the plane. Return to service in Europe is expected soon.

And looking ahead, Delta kicks off earning season this week, as airlines start reporting their fourth-quarter and full-year results. Buckle up!


"We’re confident that things will get better in the second quarter and definitely in the second half of the year."

Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci

Weekly Skies

Another quarter in a year everyone will want to forget. Last year's Q3 numbers are grim but show some interesting trends. Asian airlines led the recovery, reporting the least-bad numbers of the lot. Low-cost carriers did reasonably well, as leisure…


The question of whether travelers would board a Boeing 737 MAX again has plagued the airframer and airlines since the jet was first grounded more than 21 months ago.

Routes and Networks

Denver, Houston, Miami and Seattle are all cities that will see an influx of new Boeing 737 MAX flying over the next few months as U.S. airlines slowly reintroduce the jet to their fleets.

Feature Story

At this time in 2020, the airline industry was preparing for another year of record-setting profits and traffic. They were in an arms race to add more premium services and products and — which now seems quaint — were focusing…