Savage cuts decimate airline routes as they wonder “what’s next?”

Qantas have grounded all but two of their 12 A380’s. Virgin Atlantic retire their A346’s, around the world larger airliners are becoming difficult to fill. Emirates have remained suspiciously silent but their devotion to the A380 may be about to bite them hard, simply unable to fill them as European and North American passengers just stop travelling.

Governments like Israel are now preventing entry to the country completely unless you go through 14 days of quarantine. That’s effectively grounded ElAl and terminated all air routes to the country.

Airlines are facing what seems to be the biggest crisis in aviation history, totally derailing their prospects for 2020. And it won’t end their, the latest modelling shows the virus will abate around August-September but be back with a vengeance from October 2020 through to May 2021. Only a vaccine is going to stop it being a permanent feature of the health environment and that’s a year away.

Finnair were sanguine yesterday, accepting yet more cuts to their long haul Asian routes and sharp cuts to routes to Italy. Every major airline in Europe and those in the US have terminated flights to the country for the foreseeable future.

The shock to airlines is not one to be underestimated. The facts of life for crews who are being laid off unpaid, are severe, unable to pay for the daily basics, rent and mortgages. Thousands of airport workers are also being laid off as they have fewer and fewer aircraft to service.

Even well known airlines – especially the middle sized ones are worried. They can sustain a few weeks, maybe a two to three months drop in income of some 50%, but this is looking worse, and the time frame is looking to be an extended one.

I’ve been having quiet conversations with people in several airlines, and there are two in the U.K. who don’t think they can get past 90 days without shutting down completely.

One sudden benefit – shockingly it took so long – is that dud flights, being operated to maintain slot access, have been made unnecessary.

It’s almost impossible to cover the sweeping scope of the impact of the virus. Wherever you look, airlines, airports and their people are facing the biggest challenge in the history of aviation .

Please take a moment to think of the men and women in airports and airlines world wide, who make our hobbies, interest and lives more interesting, more flexible, and take us places previously almost impossible.