Cancelled flights

Coronavirus Threatens Global Airlines With $113 Billion Loss

Isabel Leah Cohen - Author

Mar. 5 2020, Updated 11:42 a.m. ET

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the coronavirus could cause global airlines to lose up to $113 billion and up to 19 percent of business if the virus continues to spread, reported CNN. The new report comes two weeks after IATA estimated a $30 billion loss.

Travel restrictions and a lack of demand have caused many major airlines to cancel flights to and from mainland China. Flights between Europe and North America have also seen numbers drop.

IATA warned that the losses the airline industry can expect to face will rival those of the 2008 financial crisis.

Alexandre de Juniac, the CEO of IATA, made a statement about the report.

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“The turn of events as a result of [the coronavirus] is almost without precedent. In little over two months, the industry’s prospects in much of the world have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. It is unclear how the virus will develop, but… this is a crisis.”

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However, if the coronavirus is contained in the near future and economies recover quickly, the airline industry may only face losses of around $63 billion.

According to the association, European and Asian airlines will be hit the hardest, with carriers in the Asia Pacific facing a $58 billion loss due to lack of sales.

A U.K. carrier, Flybe, has collapsed after a bid for financial support from the government failed. Scottish airline Loganair has agreed to take over Flybe’s 16 routes.

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Unfortunately, Flybe will probably not be the only airline to go out of business as the virus continues to spread. Josef Pospisil, managing director of Fitch Ratings, commented that bigger airlines will likely be strong enough to withstand the loss of demand, but smaller airlines will not be so lucky. Asia-based carriers, in particular, may face the same fate as Flybe, especially those unable to secure financial support from investors or governments.

On Thursday, Lufthansa reported that the airline canceled 7,100 European flights — or about 25 percent of the airline’s capacity — in March alone. The company will also be forced to ground 150 out of its 770 aircraft.

Pospisil believes that it’s still too early to tell which airlines will suffer the most and to what extent. Airlines that serve routes in countries heavily affected by the outbreak will see the most loss.

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“Nobody really knows how bad it’s going to get. I don’t know, and the airlines don’t know either.”

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There are already more than 94,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and around 3,300 deaths.


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