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The Impact of Coronavirus on Air Travel

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When it comes to¬†the¬†economic fallout¬†from¬†the coronavirus pandemic, few industries have taken a bigger battering than¬†the¬†airline and¬†travel industries¬†in the United States.¬†While¬†it’s still too early to predict the extent of the impact of¬†coronavirus on air travel,¬†the¬†number¬†of¬†people flying continues¬†to plummet¬†as does¬†the number of planes.¬†The¬†level 4 travel advisory issued by the government¬†last month, while absolutely necessary, has further reduced passenger¬†travel¬†demands¬†and forced travelers to cancel their plans for the foreseeable future.¬†Let’s try¬†and¬†get a¬†clearer picture¬†of what’s going on by taking a look at¬†the¬†data.¬†Here are a few metrics that¬†can shed light on the impact coronavirus has¬†on¬†air travel¬†worldwide and in America.¬†¬†

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 Air Passenger Traffic has Nosedived by 96%

The number of passengers¬†flying¬†seems to be¬†in¬†something of¬†a¬†tailspin¬†over the¬†past few weeks.¬†Here are the numbers ‚Äď on April 14, 2020,¬†only 87,534 people passed through¬†TSA checkpoints, while on the same day last year,¬†TSA¬†checkpoints recorded 2,208,688 passengers.¬†This is a massive decline of almost 96%. April 7, 2020,¬†saw¬†a record low¬†–¬†97,130 travelers across all U.S. airports,¬†the first time in the¬†TSA¬†history¬†the total number of fliers screened¬†fell¬†below 100,000.¬†The current scenario is likely to continue¬†until worldwide travel restrictions are rescinded.¬†

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Almost Half the Planes in America are Grounded 

There are far fewer airplanes in the sky now. A majority of airlines worldwide have cut capacity by 90%-100%. These include some of the major international airlines like Ryanair, BlueAir, Emirates, Oman Air, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines. United Airlines has cut 90% of flights in April and May, American Airlines has reduced 75% of international flights through May 6, and Delta has cut 80% international flights and 70% of their network overall. Check out the data provided by the flight tracking website FlightRadar24.   


There’s approximately a 70% decrease in the number of daily commercial flight operations across the globe.¬†Currently, 42% of U.S.¬†airlines’¬†fleets, are¬†grounded, according to data from¬†Airlines for America.¬†¬†

Domestic Fares have Become Cheaper 

This is the one tiny silver lining in these turbulent times. Let’s start by saying, do not fly during a pandemic just because ticket prices have dropped! But the fact is that with demand falling, so have fares. Before the pandemic, on average, a flight from any of the busiest airports in the U.S. would¬†cost you at least $309¬†or more. Now the average ticket cost has decreased to just $163. Now would be a good time to¬†pre-book¬†tickets for anyone planning on taking a trip later this year,¬†or early next year. Do keep in mind that the entire industry is¬†in¬†a¬†state of flux right now, and airlines may even stop flying to some cities altogether to cut costs. So be sure to check airline refund and cancellation policies before buying your ticket.¬†¬†

 Air Travel Will Rebound 

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Although the airline industry will be severely impacted, it will recover, as has been seen in certain areas where the coronavirus outbreak is subsiding. The desire to travel remains unabated indicates the extensive survey conducted by LuggageHero. The survey shows that 58% of Americans plan to travel between May and September 2020, provided their destinations don’t require a mandatory quarantine. A Harris poll shows that nearly 24% of respondents are looking forward to traveling once things return to normal. The CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, thinks travel will rebound, just not as speedily and not all at once. Most airlines, domestic and international, hope to resume operations in May. All of this is good news for the industry, as is the $25 billion in federal payroll assistance, which will go a long way in helping the beleaguered industry recover.  

It’s up to you to decide what is or isn’t¬†an¬†essential travel¬†

Travel hasn’t been totally banned in America as it has been in other parts of the world. The government¬†has¬†restricted¬†non-essential travel¬†to¬†control the number of patients¬†and to prevent¬†overwhelming¬†our healthcare system. Still, it¬†is¬†up to individuals to figure out whether the nature of their travel is essential or not. Broadly,¬†essential travel includes travels¬†undertaken for healthcare, education, or trade¬†(cargo/supply chain),¬†and non-essential travel includes recreational¬†or¬†tourist travel.¬†So, decide wisely whether you need to travel or not.¬†¬†

Follow safety measures if you need to travel 

We hope these¬†data¬†and¬†guidelines¬†will¬†help if you find yourself needing to travel.¬†In the meantime,¬†should you need to step out, make sure you follow the CDC’s travel advisory for travel within the US. You should also avoid taking public transportation¬†and instead drive down to the airport in your own vehicle¬†to avoid.¬†There is a risk of contagion on buses¬†and¬†subways.¬†Also, pre-book your airport parking online, to minimize physical contact.¬†¬†

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