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8 Ways COVID-19 Has Impacted Airlines and What That Means For Travelers

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One of the major impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that far fewer people are traveling due to the health risks involved. This reduction in travel has had a major impact on the airline industry. These are eight of the ways airlines have been affected by COVID-19.

1. The CDC Has Said Traveling On Airplanes Increases the Risk Of Coronavirus Transmission

Being indoors for long periods of time within proximity to other people is one of the highest risk activities for coronavirus transmission, per the CDC. Because flying requires people to spend time in security lines and airport terminals and social distancing is challenging to maintain inside an airplane, it is recommended that people avoid air travel when possible and wear a mask when not. Passengers who can not avoid air travel may want to take extra precautions, such as boosting their immune function with products such as red superfood.

2. Two-Thirds Fewer People Are Traveling By Air

According to TSA data, only about one-third of the amount of pre-pandemic travelers are traveling by air. Travel numbers rebounded somewhat during the late summer and early fall when the pandemic appeared to be improving, but surging numbers of cases and new evidence that flying may be riskier than initially thought has caused numbers to drop again.

3. Expect Fewer and More Expensive Flights

With demand at all-time lows, current fares are down as much as 40%. However, airlines have long relied on frequent, full-fare flights by business travelers to make it possible to offer leisure travelers frequent, discounted flights. With ticket sales to business flyers down more than 85%, airlines may be forced to cut flights to less popular destinations and increase prices.

4. The Environment Is Benefiting

A silver lining linked to the reduction in travel is an over 8% drop in global CO2 emissions compared to last year. The decrease in air travel is credited with 13% of that drop. While the decrease in emissions caused by ground travel far exceeds air travel, every little bit helps.

5. Many Airlines Are Struggling Financially

Government-mandated shutdowns have forced many airlines to cancel flights and refund fares to passengers. Researchers expect it to take two to six years for the industry to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of passenger demand. As a result, it is estimated that the airline industry could lose between $63 and $113 billion in revenues. Many airlines have responded by reducing the size of their fleets, laying off employees and filing for bankruptcy.

6. Millions Of Jobs Are at Risk

It is estimated that as many as 4.8 million jobs may be lost in the airline industry, representing a 48% reduction in the workforce. Additionally, the reduction in air travel could put as many as 46 million jobs in industries that support airlines in jeopardy. Another 26.4 million jobs in the tourism industry as a whole are expected to be impacted by the reduction in air travel.

7. More Government Bailouts Will Be Needed

The United States government handed airlines $32 billion in relief through the Cares act, which passed in March of 2020; however, that is not expected to be enough to save the industry. Another $45 billion is earmarked for transit agencies, including airlines, in the current round of COVID-19 relief negotiations, though additional airline bailouts are unpopular with the public and some legislators.

8. Changes Made to Reduce Transmission May Be Permanent

Some of the changes airlines have made to reduce the chance of coronavirus transmission during the pandemic may be permanent features. Examples include touchless check-in counters, health screening and changes in boarding procedures.

Conclusion

Travel restrictions and fears of coronavirus transmission have had a huge impact on the airline industry and the industries that rely on air travel. While the industry is expected to recover eventually, air travel will likely look different for years after the pandemic is over.

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