Coronavirus Outbreak: CAPA Says Most Airlines Will Be Bankrupt By End Of May Without Coordinated Government Action
Aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Hong Kong Airlines Ltd. sit parked at Hong Kong International Airport in China. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Coronavirus Outbreak: CAPA Says Most Airlines Will Be Bankrupt By End Of May Without Coordinated Government Action

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Most airlines in the world will be bankrupt by the end of May due to the coronavirus pandemic and only coordinated government and industry action right now can avoid the catastrophe, global aviation consultancy firm CAPA has said.

"As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep through our world, many airlines have probably already been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants," it stated in a note on Monday.

Across the world, airlines have announced drastic reduction in their operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. For instance, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines stated on Sunday that it would be grounding 300 aircraft in its fleet and reduce flights by 40 percent.

The U.S. has suspended all tourist visas for people belonging to the European Union, the U.K. and Ireland. Similarly, the Indian government has suspended all tourist visas and E-visas granted on or before March 11.

Also read: Airlines Plead for State Relief After Virus Shreds Travel

CAPA, in its note on Monday, said, "By the end of May-2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt. Coordinated government and industry action is needed - now - if catastrophe is to be avoided."

Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and "what flights there are operate much less than half full", it added.

"Forward bookings are far outweighed by cancellations and each time there is a new government recommendation it is to discourage flying. Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented. Normality is not yet on the horizon," it said.

Also read: Airlines Cut Flights; Central Banks Take Action: Virus Update

India's largest airline IndiGo -- which has around 260 planes in its fleet -- said on Thursday that it has seen a decline of 15-20 percent in daily bookings in the last few days.

The low-cost carrier had stated that it expects its quarterly earnings to be materially impacted due to such decline.

CAPA said the failure to coordinate the future will result in protectionism and much less competition.

Also read: Coronavirus Travel Plunge Could Wipe Out 50 Million Tourism Jobs

"The alternative does not bear thinking about. An unstructured and nationalistic outcome will not be survival of the fittest," it said.

"It will mostly consist of airlines that are the biggest and the best-supported by their governments. The system will reek of nationalism and it will not serve the needs of the 21st century world. That is not a prospect that any responsible government should be prepared to contemplate," the consultancy firm said.

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