Despite passage of the CARES Act, the fallout from COVID-19 continues. There are 270 million Americans living under ‘stay at home’ orders, and 22 million people have filed unemployment claims in the last four weeks. Airline demand is roughly 5% of normal, schedules have been dramatically curtailed, and thousands of aircraft have been grounded. We believe that 2020 US GDP will contract from 4% to 6%.
For the US airline industry to recover to 2019 levels, it will take years, not months. Prior recessions offer a reference point. US GDP took a 2.5% hit during the Global Financial Crisis in 2009; the US passenger airline industry required seven years to recover.
Within that context, Flightpath Economics has analyzed the data and is offering a set of scenarios and forecasts for the recovery timeline of the US passenger airline industry after COVID-19. We believe an “L-shaped” recovery is most likely, meaning that the US airline industry will take eight years or more to regain 2019 passenger volumes.
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