Air Travel Is Going to Be Very Bad, for a Very Long Time

Air Travel Is Going to Be Very Bad, for a Very Long Time (Source 2020 travel bookings were down by 98 percent from last year’s levels and that the average domestic flight had 10 passengers on board. Warren Buffett, renowned for his messages of long-term optimism about U.S. stocks during previous financial downturns, announced that Berkshire Hathaway was selling all of its substantial holdings in the four major U.S. airlines: American, Delta, United, and Southwest. A few days earlier, British Airways announced that it was laying off some 12,000 employees, nearly one-third of its entire staff. Economists, engineers, aviation analysts, professional pilots were more certain about what the next few years will bring: namely, sustained bad times for the world’s airlines. What I saw just two months ago in a bustling airport, no one will see, anywhere, for a very long time. That is because, as Jon Ostrower, the editor of The Air Current put it to me, “there are only two things that airlines can do to make people come back.” He explained what they would be: “One is a vaccine, so people feel safe going to the airport or sitting with 150 strangers in a plane. The other is people having the wherewithal to travel. Do you have a job? Do you have enough money that you can think of taking your family on a vacation? These are things that control the airlines’ future, and that they cannot do anything about.”

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