Buried in the note from United Airlines to employees were a pair of startling statistics that demonstrate just how hard the airline industry has been hit by shrinking demand.
Sobering Statistics: Airlines Demand Is Down 97%
Just how much has travel demand fallen? Just how bad is the environment these days for airlines? United puts COVID-19 in context with two numbers:
To help you understand how few people are flying in this environment, less than 200,000 people flew with us during the first two weeks of April this year, compared to more than 6 million during the same time in 2019, a 97 percent drop. And we expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019.
Is that crazy or what? Here we are halfway through April and United has averaged only about 14,000 travelers a day. Last April, United flew over 428,000 travelers per day over the same period. And this year we even had Easter over that period, which is usually a busier travel period.
The second stat puts this into even greater context. Last year United flew more people on a single day than it will the entire month year? W-O-W.
These “97% drop in demand” have been floating around, but these stats really put it into context.
This is a brutal time for the aviation industry so let me use this moment to say thank you to all the front-line workers and the behind-the-scenes workers who are working hard to keep America moving. I do not envy the uncertainty that must arise from the sobering realization that demand is simply not going to pick up anytime soon.
Hopefully the demand will resemble a “V” even if such forecasts seem foolishly optimistic at this point…