Grounding of airlines likely until end of year - aviation expert

Grounding of airlines likely until end of year - aviation expert

A leading aviation expert has warned that airlines could effectively be grounded until at least the end of the year.


Boeing 737 MAX airplanes

The aviation industry has taken a big hit in the coronavirus crisis, as lockdown measures and travel restrictions bite.


In South Africa, Comair announced on Tuesday that the company has entered business rescue amid mounting losses due to the Covid-19 outbreak.


Virgin Atlantic will cut over 3,000 jobs  -- around a third of staff -- the British carrier part-owned by tycoon Richard Branson announced Tuesday.


It comes one week after British Airways announced plans to slash up to 12,000 jobs because of the Covid-19 fallout.


Aviation expert Guy Leitch says he expects only cargo and repatriation flight to be operational for most of the year.


And even when the different governments do open up the skies to commercial flights, it doesn’t mean people are all going to rush to buy a ticket.


"Even when it goes back to operation, people will be scared of travelling,” says Leitch.


“They are going to be worried about catching diseases from other passengers they share the airline with or even afraid of being stranded on the other side of their travels.”


He adds that competition in the industry will be limited for a while, as only a few airlines will be in operation.


"The good news is that airlines prices will be cheaper for about another year after the passing of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will take from November this year until the end of quarter three next year (for prices to go up),” says Leitch.


He says this is going to have a devastating effect on tourism.


"Airlines are responsible for about 90% of incoming tourists to South African from overseas destinations, so the entire South African tourism industry is under enormous pressure due to Covid-19 and, in particular, the grounding of the airline.”



Covid-19 forces Comair into business rescue

The airline has not been in operation since March due to the ban on flights as the governments seek to control the coronavirus outbreak. The airline reported a half-year loss of R564 million in February and this, says CEO Wrenelle Stander, left it with no other option to implement business rescue.

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