LONDON – The fight against the low demand for international flights doesn’t want to blow over as corporate travel retains the most affected position. The latest move by the American legacy airlines was to deploy twin-aisle aircraft on domestic routes.
As stated by various sources business trips are still down and may never even return to pre-Covid levels (Bouwer et al., 2021; Walt, 2021). Therefore, it becomes pivotal for airlines to find their balance point, simply put, to be conformed to a new model required by the market.
The current context sees leisure firms in the lead and tends to put FSCs on a slippery slope as they mostly rely on corporate travel.
According to a recent analysis by the Global Business Travel Association, despite the rapid distribution of the vaccine, the return of business is only expected in 2025 (GBTA, 2021), while leisure flights (Visiting Friends & Relatives included) show a recovery close to Eurocontrol’s most optimistic forecast (Eurocontrol, 2021).
Cirium schedules data reveals that two American majors, American Airlines and United, have started operating wide-body aircraft on domestic routes. For instance, AA flies from Miami (MIA) and both New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) with the Boeing 777, United operates JFK-LAX with the 787 (Cirium, 2021).
By contrast, Cirium says, Delta has decided to continue deploying its widebodies on the long-haul, despite the international demand in April 2021 was 87.3% below April 2019 (IATA, 2021).
Another sticking point is the number of aircraft parked or stored during 2020 due to the coronavirus. To date, fleets of legacy airlines, civil aviation database Planespotters.net shows, are almost entirely active.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that during the pandemic airlines withdrawn a remarkable number of wide-body aircraft, including 18 Delta Boeing 777s (Delta, 2020), 16 767s, and 24 American Airlines Airbus A330s (AA, 2020).
Obviously, the withdrawal of many jets results in an unavoidable drop in flights. First, because replacing sixty widebodies is not an immediate process. And it is a trivial observation.
Secondly, U.S. borders are still banned for passengers from crucial countries for the region, such as the European Union, China, Brazil, and South Africa. Due to the lack of international flights, the White House is under pressure to slacken anti-Covid measures (Kelly and Alden, 2021).
In the confusion generated by the pandemic that, in one way or another, forced U.S. legacy airlines to retreat, two new low-cost carriers found their place: Avelo Airlines and Breeze Airways.