The coronavirus has ended a decade of profits recorded in the sector with the constant growth of air transport.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant losses of some 35,000 million dollars for United States airlines in 2020, according to estimates by the multinational financial data company FactSet.
Thus, the coronavirus has ended a decade of profits recorded in the sector with the constant growth of air transport, and it is also the first time that the Southwest Airlines company suffers annual losses in its more than 40 years of history.
Shares of airlines suffered declines not seen in years in 2020, and American Airlines fell 45%, its biggest drop since before its merger with US Airways in 2013.
Delta Air Lines lost 31% in the stock market in 2020, and United Airlines 51%, its most significant devaluation since the 2008 crisis, while Southwest slid 14%.
The pandemic has forced airlines to downsize rapidly, eliminating routes and having to park hundreds of planes.
In the case of US airlines, their debt rose about 67,000 million dollars to 172,000 million, according to the group ‘Airlines for America’, something that indicates it will take years to pay.
Despite these negative data, FactSet points out that air transport seems to have recovered a lot of ground since the beginning of the pandemic, and while on April 16 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) registered just over 95,000 passengers in US airports , in the last 5 days of 2020 that figure rose to more than 1 million people a day, but still is still 45% lower than the previous year.
By 2021, FactSet analysts estimate, however, that airlines will cut their losses, and that even some of them, such as Southwest, Delta or Alaska, will register profits thanks to, among other factors, the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine, which is hopes to boost air transport.
Even so, senior airline executives warn that there are still tough months to overcome, and American Airlines president Robert Isom said this week that the company’s capacity in January and February will be 45% compared to 2019 levels.