Issue No. 801
A Record for 'All the Wrong Reasons'
What Can We Learn From the U.S. Big Six Airlines' 2020 Results?
Pushing Back: Inside This Issue
So here we are, financial results from the six largest U.S. airlines in hand. Those airlines lost a total of $43.8 billion last year. Or, put another way, that's just a few billion less than the amount the industry lost, cumulatively, during the 1990s and 2000s. Were it not for tens of billions in federal aid, we might have seen an airline or two disappear.
Unlike in other airline-industry downturns, this one is global. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for example, the U.S. industry staggered, but other regions of the world did all right. Now, even powerhouses like Singapore Airlines are suffering.
Next week, earnings start in earnest outside the U.S. We'll soon have a fuller picture of the global scope of just how bad last year was for the industry.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel in 2021 (and is that light an oncoming train)? Cargo is a bright spot. Korean Air even managed to turn a small profit on the back of freight. Carriers with strong domestic markets or leisure networks say they're ready to bounce back as more people get vaccinated against Covid-19. Allegiant Air even thinks it will become profitable this year.
"I think we have made it quite clear that we totally disagree with any [airport] slot waivers. We actually think this is a social crime."Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi