Looking ahead to the post-crisis world when passenger travel can resume at scale, airlines, airports, and other air transport industry stakeholders believe that the industry will need at least two to three years to recover.
During a webinar on 23 April, which included the unveiling of the initial survey results, a live poll of the 900-plus attendees found that 44.6% of respondents expect it to take up to two years for the air transport industry to return to 2019 levels of business, and a further 36.8% expect it to take up to three years. Only 5.8% expect the industry to recover to 2019 levels within 12 months.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhounon CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” said, “The recovery with respect to passenger traffic that we modeled is roughly three to five years getting back to the environment that existed pre-COVID. We get back to ’19 levels in three years, and then to get back on the growth track it might take another couple years. So, we’ve been conservative in that respect. Our plans are mostly built around the re-fleeting of airlines. Everyone is looking at their fleet plans. The retirements are going to be significant, and the investments, while not what they used to be in a growth environment, will continue to be made to get more fuel-efficient, cleaner airplanes in the sky and create competitive advantages for each of our airlines. So, that’s what we’ve modeled. We have stress-tested the model in as many ways as we can think of. The production rates are tailored for that model. And we believe the markets, the credit markets, and the liquidity will be there for us. But I don’t want to suggest that if in nine months there’s another spike, that things won’t be another change”.
Another live poll during the webinar found that 39.9% of respondents expect the public to feel comfortable flying again once new procedures are introduced to protect passengers. 32.4% expect consumer confidence to return once a COVID-19 vaccine is disseminated; 11.6% expect people will only fly if they have to; and 10.3% expect World Health Organization (WHO) advice to dictate when people will feel comfortable flying again.