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

Weekly Skies

Recovery is unlikely to come this year, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier said, but the changing airline landscape in the region presents Ryanair with opportunities for growth as travel demand starts to return.

Routes and Networks

While competitors are hemming and hawing over American Airlines and JetBlue Airways recently-approved northeast alliance, the partners are wasting no time in aligning their Boston and New York operations. JetBlue has outlined its plans to increase departures at four key…

State of the Unions

American Airlines' leadership said it backs union efforts to extend federal funding for airline workers through September 30. Without additional payroll support, the Fort-Worth, Texas-based airline said it could furlough or lay off up to 13,000 employees.

Landing Strip

It's not just airline employees and management who are asking the federal government to extend its support for the industry. Airports, too, have requested more aid, to the tune of $17 billion.Airports got $10 billion in support through the CARES…

Feature Story

2020 was a ghastly year for airlines. After racking up the tidy sum of $119 billion in pre-tax profits during the decade ending in 2019, the U.S. big six — Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest…