Airline executives are heading to the White House this week to discuss coronavirus. Will bailout be on the agenda?
Last week, President Donald Trump designated Vice President Mike Pence to oversee White House efforts to deal with COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus that has thrown the world into a tizzy.
COVID-19 has proven particularly hard on airlines. Airline stocks have rapidly declined in 2020 and more route suspensions are on the horizon. Rosy forecasts of profits have been discarded and the airline industry in the U.S. (and worldwide) now faces a year of mounting losses.
To discuss strategy and how the U.S. government and airlines can work together, airline executives will meet with Pence on Wednesday. Airline CEOs are already heading to Washington to speak Thursday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit, so this meeting will not require a special trip.
No agenda has been released, but you have to wonder whether bailouts will be discussed. It may be premature now, but with demand continuing to retreat and no end in sight to the outbreak, the U.S. may find itself in a position similar to what I covered yesterday in Israel.
There, EL AL is already facing collapse due to COVID-19 and the government has indicated it will step in to protect the airline, seen as a strategic national asset.
It’s far too premature to discuss airline collapse in the USA beyond this: with competition having already dwindled, there will be strong pressure on federal and state governments to lessen the turbulence airlines currently find themselves in.
CEOs from American, Delta, and United have already confirmed attendance at the meeting. Nice that Mr. Bastian isn’t on vacation this week…
Will anything come of the meeting? Perhaps not. But it does demonstrate how serious COVID-19 has become for the U.S. aviation industry.