This is the first time Southwest Airlines has suffered annual losses in its more than 40 year history. . / Larry W. Smith / Archives
New York, January 1. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in losses of around $ 35 billion for U.S. airlines in 2020, according to estimates by multinational financial data firm FactSet.
Thus, the coronavirus ended a decade of profits recorded in the sector with the constant growth of air transport, and it is also the first time that Southwest Airlines has suffered annual losses in more than 40 years of history.
Airlines shares suffered declines unmatched for years in 2020, and American Airlines fell 45%, its biggest drop since its merger with US Airways in 2013.
Delta Air Lines lost 31% on the stock market in 2020, and United Airlines lost 51%, its largest devaluation since the 2008 crisis, while Southwest fell 14%.
The pandemic has forced airlines to downsize quickly, eliminating roads and having to park hundreds of planes.
In the case of US airlines, their debt has increased from about $ 67,000 million to $ 172,000 million, according to the “Airlines for America” group, indicating that it will take years to pay off.
Despite this negative data, FactSet points out that air travel appears to have recovered a lot of ground since the start of the pandemic, and while on April 16, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) registered just over 95,000 passengers at US airports. . , in the last 5 days of 2020, that figure has risen to over one million people per day, but still remains 45% lower than in the previous year.
By 2021, however, FactSet analysts believe that airlines will cut losses, and even some of them, such as Southwest, Delta or Alaska, will see profits thanks to, among other factors, the arrival of the vaccine. against the coronavirus, which is hoped to boost air transport.
Still, airline executives warn there are still tough months to come, and American Airlines Chairman Robert Isom said this week that the airline’s capacity in January and February will be 45 percent per year. compared to Levels 2019.