The global airline industry will not be able to fully recover from the coronavirus crisis until 2022, Lufthansa's Turkey chief said Saturday, as no major country would dare to open its international borders amid the pandemic.
Noting that the damage inflicted on the aviation sector was increasing by the day, Kemal Geçer told Anadolu Agency (AA) that airlines could not map out a recovery timeline, as consumer confidence would not return for an indefinite period.
“The important thing for airlines is to manage this crisis in terms of liquidity in order to survive and keep offering services,” Geçer said.
He said that the sector could recover in 2022 at the earliest but with lower passenger capacity compared to pre-pandemic figures, as several airlines would not be able to survive the crisis.
“My prediction for this year is for airlines to operate at an average capacity of 25-30%. In 2021, there will be around a 50-60% recovery in numbers,” Geçer stated.
Geçer said he expects the pandemic to wipe out $400 billion in passenger revenue from airlines across the world.
Estimated global airline losses from the coronavirus pandemic have climbed to $314 billion, the International Air Transport Association said on April 14, with more than half the world's airplanes already in storage.
Lufthansa, Europe's biggest carrier by revenue, is in talks with the German government about a 9 billion euro ($9.9 billion) rescue plan, according to sources.
Lufthansa Turkey is predicting domestic air travel to restart on May 28 and international flights to resume in late June, but flights will be much different than their pre-pandemic settings.
“As we saw during the post-9/11 period, new security measures and procedures will be introduced.”
Geçer said he also expected a digital platform to be launched to share passengers’ COVID-19 test results with airlines and customs officials as part of wider safety measures to help passengers feel more comfortable about flying in the midst of the pandemic.
U.S. airline industry representatives have already begun discussions with policymakers in Washington on measures such as virus testing and pre-boarding temperature checks while some airlines, including Lufthansa, have made it mandatory to use protective masks for the duration of flights.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. announced Friday that it had purchased hundreds of hospital-type electrostatic fogging machines that it will start using in June to decontaminate airplane cabin surfaces and crevices before every flight.