Boeing CEO Predicts At Least One Major Airline Will Go Out Of Business By This Summer Due To The Pandemic

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are pictured near the company's factory on April 29, 2020 in Renton, Washington
Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

Dave Calhoun, the CEO of airplane manufacturer Boeing, told NBC News on Tuesday that he believes at least one major American airline may go out of business by the end of the summer.

“I don’t want to get too predictive on that subject, but yes, most likely,” Calhoun said. “You know, something will happen when September comes around.”

Calhoun did not give details about why he believes that one major airline will not make it through the coronavirus pandemic. Later in the day, Gordon Johndroe, a spokesperson for Boeing, clarified Calhoun’s comment saying that Calhoun was “was speaking in general about the uncertainty in the sector, not about any one particular airline.”

The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions to the travel industry, especially airline travel. In April, the airline industry reported its first quarterly losses in years, according to NBC News. The number of passengers traveling via airplanes on Monday was higher than it’s been since March, but those numbers are still 91 percent lower than last year.

he factory where Boeing manufactures is 737 MAX airplane is shown on April 29, 2020 in Renton, Washington
  Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

The Boeing CEO told NBC News that he expects levels of air travel this summer to be about a quarter of what they normally would be in the summer months. He went on to say that he only expects levels of air travel to return to about half of what they were before the pandemic by the end of the year. Calhoun made it clear that he does not expect levels of air travel to return to 100 percent of what they were for a long time.

According to NBC News, Calhoun’s predictions for the airline industry have been echoed by other executives from the major airlines. Some of them have said recently that they believe travel may be starting to pick up again, but they expressed concern over how long it will take for the industry to truly recover. Many of them believe that it will be years before the demand for air travel returns to the level it was before the pandemic.

During an online shareholder’s meeting a few weeks ago, Calhoun told Boeing shareholders that he believes it may take as long as three years for the industry to get back on its feet, ABC News reported. He stressed that even when the industry does get to a stable place, the individual airlines would likely be much smaller than they were before the pandemic.

“We are in an unpredictable and fast-changing environment, and it is difficult to estimate when the situation will stabilize, but when it does, the commercial market will be smaller and our customers’ needs will be different.”

Airlines have started to receive funding from federal grants that were created as part of one of the coronavirus relief packages, NBC News reported. However, these grants are only intended to help airlines through October 1.