Analysts have predicted that net losses for the US airline industry will top $35bn (€28bn) net for 2020.
The huge losses represent around 40% of global losses and bring to an end a decade of huge profits for the industry; for Southwest Airlines it’ll be the first year in the red for four decades, according to a report by CNBC. All carriers saw substantial drops in their share price, with American Airlines losing 45% and United falling by 51% – the largest drop since 2008.
US carriers increased their total debt by $67bn (€53.8bn) to more than $172bn (€138bn) in 2020, according to trade group Airlines for America; servicing that level of debt will weigh the industry down for years to come, with a risk that the consumer will have to share the burden through higher ticket prices.
But even as airline bosses sounded a cautious note and warned of difficult months ahead, it’s not all doom and gloom: Delta CEO Ed Bastian expects the airline will have positive cash flow by mid-2021.