One of the biggest industries hit by the Coronavirus was the airline industry. Almost overnight, all business dried up and all international flights were banned. Many airlines were forced to lay off workers and reduce the number of flights. Many businesses have chosen to keep their employees from flying and all leisure based travel was put on hold.
However, over the past week, the amount of passengers who have flown was at pre-pandemic levels, but this isn’t permanent. Many Americans are still hesitant to fly and this could continue well into 2021.
Every year during Christmas and Thanksgiving, American airlines see the most foot traffic that they will see nearly all the year around. Indeed, nearly 50 million people flew during the Thanksgiving season of 2019. However, Coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on those numbers. Only a few million people flew this Thanksgiving, with many choosing to either stay home or to arrive at their destination by car.
The Christmas and New Year season looks a bit better, seeing about 3 million flyers. Nevertheless, the reality is that this is a final push before an activity slump in 2021. Many airlines expect to see only about 600,000 passengers, across the United States, on a daily basis.
Renewed pressure in 2021
Despite the initial excitement about a Coronavirus vaccine, it is likely that a majority of the public will not get it for several more months, as vaccines are being given to front line workers and health care professionals. However, even then, it will be a while before the American populace is convinced that it is safe to travel. Many Americans do not fear baggage or the security checkpoints, which are the areas where they are most likely to come into contact with COVID-19, but they are worried about the flight itself. This is inflated by stories like United 591, where a man died because of Coronavirus complications, and United failed to tell the passengers for over a week.
All-in-all, it is likely that airlines will continue to be pressed to find new and innovative ways to show the public that they are looking out for their health and to get them back into flying. Until that happens, domestic flights will be slow and sluggish, and international flights will remain, on the whole, minimal or a pipe dream.