Coronavirus is a member of a family consisting of viruses identified as coronaviruses. The infections are crown-like and are mostly inhabited by animals like pigs, bats, and another small mammalian family (Dhama et al., 2020). Interestingly, they also can mutate and move from one human being to another from the animals. Patients infected develop a cough, aches, and a fever, which improves the shortage of breath and pneumonia, this is according to reports (Xiao, 2013). It mostly affects the respiratory system (Xiao, 2013). The rate of mortality differs by region; for instance, the areas which had no time to prepare like Wuhan where it originated were solidly hit, unlike the rest, which had enough time to prepare (Dhama et al., 2020). As the outbreak continues to spread, the global aviation industry is considerably being jolted. The principal focus of this paper is to offer a critical overview of the devastating impacts that the coronavirus epidemic is increasingly causing the airline industry. Indeed, the ban on air travel to different countries continues to wreak havoc in the airline industry globally. Coronavirus has negatively impacted the activities of airline companies, as evidenced in large debts, half-pay leave for workers, and freezing payment systems that lead to the closure of some companies.
Even though the coronavirus is confirmed to be affecting other industries and commercial areas, the effect is felt in the aviation industry as well. The coronavirus could not be as deadly as people think since a good percentage of patients infected can recover, and people only die at an advanced level of symptoms (Dhama et al., 2020). As the government is trying to create public awareness, the number of people traveling has dropped dismally as people are striving to keep themselves safe from contracting the disease (Dhama et al., 2020). Therefore, people are no longer in haste to attend events internationally or in areas affected.
Dramatically, fewer people are flying each day, meaning flights have to be taken down because people are no longer traveling, unlike before. Large swaths of the public traveling are likely to continue staying off planes until further notice, which is a more significant threat to the industry. Economic damage may occur due to prolonged disruption, even though the effects are still in their early stages (Isidore, 2020) unfortunately, that the industry was grappling with a global grounding of Boeing's 737 Max that has been out for a whole year following two fatal crashes (Chokshi, 2020). Some airlines made losses from just losing the airline following the cancellation of several flights leading to loss of billions of dollars.
Internationally, there were clear indicators that global air travel was slowly coming to an end. According to Gelles & Chokshi (2020), on social sites, images of empty airports and airstrips were shared by travelers. Others are posting workers putting on full-body protective attire. Half-empty flights were spotted and notably, passengers using disinfected wipes on their seats. Gelles & Chokshi (2020) also states that the dramatic turn of events has changed the industry's prospects since the revenue has dropped to more than $100 billion.
World carriers are already cutting their routes, coping with further situations by using rather small planes, and freezing their payment systems. Efforts are made to reduce the number of staff to control costs in the falling industry. Moreover, Isidore, C. (2020) further emphasizes this by stating that the bookings to report from affected regions are reducing while passengers are also seeking for refund of their money as the areas collapse to zero. Unfortunately, fear is higher than the virus and what people wish to know whether it is safe to travel.
Investors are keenly checking the red flags, which keep changing from one country to another as the virus moves across the globe. Earlier, they were checking on people or routes mostly exposed to China, while now it's a question of who has an accommodative balance sheet (Isidore, 2020). Most airlines are at risk and have become very vulnerable. For instance, Flybe has demised from the shock in turn of events (Topham, 2020). Airlines with poor decisions, heavy debt burdens are the most vulnerable as the losses may take them down completely. The industry is left in an owe, wondering who is next after the death of Flybe.
In several cases, whether an airline will fail or not is a political question rather an economic-based. For instance, the Italian airline has been struggling with debts over decades and might have given up the fight long ago, was it not for the support from the government (Topham, 2020). Regions that are hard hit are likely to fall if enough support from necessary bodies does not support them. Specific airlines are saved from death when the government steps in and takes the operations amid reducing travelers and rising debts.
The question of how badly the industry is affected remains an open one because after all is said and done, nobody is aware of how shallow or deep will coronavirus affects the population globally or how long it will continue to terrorize the people. Today, the International Air Transport Association has estimated airline losses of about $ 113 billion in case the spread of the virus continues (Topham, 2020). Unfortunately, airliners have to act fast on three significant sidelines which are first, their staff; they cannot afford to fly them to risky areas that will make them contract the disease and fall sick leading an increment in cost for treatment purposes and may lead to even death when the case is severe (Topham, 2020). This means they will have to employ other staff to replace the exited even under financial pressure to control the workforce.
Additionally, they have to react on the market since there is no-point of roaming around with planes carrying nothing. They also have to watch out for legal obligations that may arise on the way as the virus continues to spread across the globe. Airlines that are significantly at risk are ones having little or fewer cash reserves (Gelles & Chokshi, 2020). Luckily, fuel prices might fall as the rates also reduce, and the government is striving to put measures on the ground to control the virus from the continuous spread. It is believed that smaller airlines might survive in the market.
As the virus is continuing to spread, the representatives have kept close contact with the administration of the travel industries and agencies to address concerns and update officials. The industry is fearful of an abrupt end to rosy financial health as aviation regulators are contacted worldwide for a request to put on hold to the rule of takeoff and landing slots (Frost, 2020). Pilots are now forced to take partial leave on payment as other companies encourage time off. Unfortunately, several airlines have grounded their large planes like Germany while the outbreak in Italy has made the situation worse.
After much of the country's air traffic was in the ground earlier this year, the Chinese flights are now resuming to work amidst new hits from Italy and Germany. For the local business persons depending on tourism, the impact is continuing to be broad as travelers are trying to weigh options between risks and benefits during the summer season (Isidore, 2020). The bookings that were canceled during the high alert seasons did not only affect the airlines and the hotels, but it was also a blow to other businesses conducted within the regions of interest.
In conclusion, it is not clear how long the bans will take place as the virus is not yet controlled fully and continues to spread since there is no accurate vaccine or cure. Travelers are advised to minimize their movements for the period of combating the epidemic as the world strives to come up with a solution to the menace. Reducing the stigma of people from affected areas is a sure way since people have a lot of fear from their fellow human beings than the virus itself, and they only wish to hear that they are safe. The virus is not as dangerous as people might assume it is due to its ability to spread fast because only a small percentage of approximately 2% dies from it.
Chokshi, N. (2020). The New York Times. Airlines Feel Deepening Impact as Coronavirus Upends Travel. The New York Times Company. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/business/united-airlines-coronavirus.html
Dhama, K., Sharun, K., Tiwari, R., Sircar, S., Bhat, S., Malik, Y. S., ... & Rodriguez-Morales, A. J. (2020). Coronavirus Disease, 2019-COVID-19. Doi: 10.20944/preprints202003. 0001.v1
Frost, N. (2020). Quartz Daily Brief. Coronavirus has already sent one airline into bankruptcy, and plenty more are at risk. https://qz.com/1813494/which-airlines-are-most-at-risk-from-coronavirus/
Gelles, D. & Chokshi, N. (2020). The New York Times. 'Almost Without Precedent': Airlines Hit Hard by Coronavirus. The New York Times Company. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/business/coronavirus-airline-industry.html
Isidore, C. (2020, March 5). CNN Business. United, JetBlue, is cutting US flights because of coronavirus.2020 Cable News Network. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/04/business/united-us-flight-cuts-coronavirus/index.html
Topham, G. (2020, March 2). The airline industry braced for the major threat from coronavirus turmoil. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/02/airline-industry-braced-for-major-threat-from-coronavirus-turmoil
Xiao, Y. (2013). Structural and Functional Studies on Coronavirus Non-Structural Proteins 7/8 and 5 (Doctoral dissertation, University of Lubeck). https://d-nb.info/1050905830/34
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