MAX, CoVid19, cause expanding flight suspensions

The ongoing MAX saga has caused American Airlines to push back reintroduction to August 18 and other airlines are set to follow.

In effect the busy summer period is now a dead loss for airlines around the world who planned to run the type. That’s two summers lost and bast amounts of revenue they’ll never see back.

Smaller airlines like Norwegian have had a hard time, loosing money over the costs of wet leases to cover the missing aircraft. It was a major contribution in the fall of AirItaly this week.

As if airlines haven’t had a rough enough time, the CoVid19 coronavirus outbreak has lead to almost complete suspension of US and European flights to China out to the end of the winter season on March 29.

Lufthansa group yesterday confirmed theirs, BA & Virgin Atlantic had already done so, Finnair has just done the same and the AF-KLM group will shortly do likewise.

The impact on Hong Kong, which has been remarkably good at keeping control of the situation through closing flights and restricted land border controls, has been severe.

Demand for flights to Hong Kong has been falling sharply – ElAl suspended flights due to lack of bookings yesterday, Finnair cut back to one a day from two, and US airlines have either cut back or stopped.

Cathay Pacific has put a third of its staff on unpaid leave for three weeks as it lays up aircraft. Hong Kong Airlines has done the same.

Quite how the Chinese market is suffering isn’t being made public but the volume of flights has been slashed by around 60%.

Japan is taking a particularly harsh attitude towards the virus and has cut almost all air links – partly its Japan’s hyper-clean mentality, but as much is about ensuring the success in the summer of the Olympic Games and not having the virus hang over them in a negative way.

In any event China too is suffering from the MAX issue but probably less bothered by it – if they had the hundred or so 737’s that should have been delivered they wouldn’t have been able to use them.

One bizarre exception to all this is Ethiopian Airlines which has carried on flying. They have deep ties with Chinese industry and are pressing ahead with several major projects – not least a massive dam on the river Nile which is disputed with most neighbouring states and Egypt.