Will Covid-19 Bankrupt Airlines?

Travelli Official
4 min readApr 14, 2020

We were not ready..

Within a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has essentially shut down the entire world. As of April 6th, the United States is leading the world in cases at over 300,000. As a result the world has transitioned to in-home work and social distancing, but no industry has come to a sudden halt like the travel industry. All this change felt like it was happening in a matter of seconds and it is very clear we weren’t prepared. Only a little over a month ago, most lives were perfectly normal, and people traveled on a regular basis; however now 38 out of 50 states are on a shelter in place as of April 3rd. The government has ordered for there to be no unnecessary trips.

As a result, in the past month there has been a dramatic drop in flight purchases. Many people are practicing social distancing as they should however; the result is the travel industry as a whole is losing money. Big United States airlines are losing capacity, the number of seats filled in the air. According to CNBC, Delta Airlines, has cut their capacity by 70%, United Airlines by 65%, and American Airlines by 50%. Another United States airline, Alaska Airlines, compared their bookings from now to last March, and they found that there was a 265,000 decrease in bookings. This has been the biggest disruption in the travel industry to date. The economic repercussions have hit airlines harder than 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis combined… And now we are all wondering will airlines go bankrupt? What can be done?

Travel Restrictions! What Will Airlines Do Next?

In order to stop the spreading of the virus, the government instituted travel restrictions. The United States has been forced to limit flights to and from Europe. For instance, American Airlines and United Airlines are cutting 50% of their capacity to Europe for this month. The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has been urging people living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to avoid unnecessary travel for 14 days. States that have restricted travel within the United States include Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia, as of March 31st.

So how will United States airlines respond?

Now it is time for airlines to save up! Many airlines have cancelled flights that will cause them to lose money. These flights can be ones that don’t have a ton of bookings at the moment or on a regular basis. This had a huge decreases in available flights, which could make it more difficult for first-responders to travel to areas which rapidly growing cases. States with the top growing cases consist of New York, New Jersey, California, Michigan, and Louisiana.

Covid-19 World Wide

The Covid-19 has done much damage to the world, but where in particular? Behind the United States is Spain with 136,675 cases and Italy is just behind with 132,547cases on April 6th 2020. The rate of confirmed cases in China has gone down in the past two weeks, and on April 3rd 2020, they only reported 31 new cases. The world, on April 6th 2020 has over one million confirmed cases at 1,345,725, and a total of 74,647 deaths. Just on April 6th the world unfortunately gained 72,824 new cases and 5,220 new deaths. Looking on the brighter side as of April 6th 278,413 people have recovered from the virus! To find more world wide data on Covid-19, check out WorldOMeter to see exact numbers, as the numbers are constantly changing.

But when will people be able to go back to our old reality?

When will things return to normal?

One main overall problem with the situation is that no one knows what is going to happen next. Airlines are unsure of when people are going to want to travel and feel comfortable with hopping on a plane. If this lack of booking and flying only last for a couple of months most airlines will be financially stable however if this lasts longer than airlines will need assistance from the government. Despite this disruption and horrible effects on society and families world-wide, perhaps this necessary grounding of airplanes has made a necessary improvement to pollution and air quality worldwide.


CNBC, (2020 March 25th) “Can Major U.S Airlines Survive the Coronavirus Outbreak”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WFMt14dSoQ5

Madeline Holcombe (2020 March 31st) Here are the states restricting travel from within the U.S CNN https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/31/us/states-travel-restrictions-list/index.html

(2020 April 6th) Coronavirus Update Live Worldometers https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?

(2020 April 11th) Coronavirus and Travel in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html



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