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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Airline Industry

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Airline Industry

The coronavirus outbreak has affected businesses worldwide, and the travel industry is certainly no exception. The closing of borders and stoppage of non-essential travel has had devastating consequences for airlines—the worst the airline industry has ever experienced in its entire history.

Decreased Scheduled Flights, Effect on Air Cargo

no flights sign

Millions of passengers have had to cancel their scheduled international and domestic flights as the result of the coronavirus crisis and its resulting border closures and travel restrictions. Statista reports that the number of scheduled worldwide flights during the week of June 1, 2020 decreased by 65.1% when compared to the week of June 3, 2019.1

There were also rapid changes to air cargo. Both air cargo capacity and demand fell in February, only to experience further decline after the mass cancellation of passenger flights, as it is on these jets that half of global air cargo is carried. By late March 2020, the cost to send cargo by air across the Pacific Ocean had tripled.

However, because of reduced passenger numbers, cargo’s importance to airlines has increased. This is evidenced by an increase in weekly cargo flights by American Airlines, as well as increases in daily cargo flights by New American. Many airlines, including Delta, are transporting medical and other essential supplies to countries in need, which is contributing to the continued relevance of airport FOD.

Employee Reductions

As the result of canceled flights, airlines worldwide have been forced to reduce employee numbers. BBC airline industry news reported on June 11, 2020 that Lufthansa plans to cut 22,000 jobs, with half of these cuts to occur in Germany.2 On the same day, Heathrow announced its current employee levels had become impossible to sustain due to a 97% decrease in passenger numbers between May 2019 and May 2020, and it revealed plans to restructure frontline roles.3

Flydubai also announced employee reductions on June 11th, stating that it had extended reduced employee pay indefinitely. It was also revealed that the carrier had placed dozens of its pilots on unpaid leave for one year.

TSA Announces New Rules and Policies

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the TSA has implemented new procedures and guidelines for staff and passengers. New social distancing procedures such as the placement of visual reminders and staggering security checkpoint lanes are now in place. For frontline employees, the TSA has published guidelines on routine cleaning and disinfection. There is now a medical exemption for hand sanitizer, allowing up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice.

FOD*BOSS Ultimate Triplex Trailer System

Some airports have recently implemented the mandatory wearing of masks for all passengers, workers, and visitors.

Many remain confident about this industry’s survival post-pandemic. Even now, FOD management at airports continues to be a priority due to the growing number of cargo flights, despite the negative impacts of the coronavirus on the airline industry. Aerosweep’s patented FOD*BOSS system collects gravel, bolts, washers, and much more from runways with unmatched efficiency and rate of pick-up. Get one today by calling +61 (0)3 9894 2100.


  1. https://www.statista.com/topics/6178/coronavirus-impact-on-the-aviation-industry-worldwide/#dossierSummary
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53007048
  3. https://mediacentre.heathrow.com/pressrelease/details/81/Corporate-operational-24/12349
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