The Low Point for the Travel Industry
There’s very little that COVID-19 has left unchanged or unaffected during its rampage through 2020. Long the industry of luxury and opulence, travel is something that has notoriously come with a tremendous price tag. The high costs of airfare, hotels and other expenditures have left a gap in who can afford to embark on trips at all. However, now it’s those very airlines and hotels who are themselves struggling. An aversion to being close to one another, as well as general common sense, have kept most people from wanting to book tickets on an airplane and thus be stuck in close proximity with others. Hotels, who’ve never enjoyed the best reputation for hygiene, are now even less desirable to visit as well. This has been a harder Quarter on the airline and hotel industries, but is that going to change any time soon?
The short answer is no. For the past four months, there has been a microscopic fraction of the usual numbers for air travel and hotel bookings both. Most travel is only by necessity and allowed for stringent business purposes. The fact that the borders between many countries still remain closed does not help the situation much either. Many airline companies have tried to make the best of the situation and stay afloat, but these plans have largely been met with public and health official’s criticisms. For example, Delta choosing to sell only “every other seat” is a plan that on paper may sound effective, but is anything but. Any configuration of passengers on a plane is dangerous simply due to the fact that everyone is in an enclosed space and sharing recycled air. There still needs to be either a tremendous redesign in airplane layouts or a vaccine before that kind of service can resume as it was before.
Many airlines have filed for government intervention and stimulus money to keep their companies going. Though a subjective point, a large majority of the companies have been denied their claims for seemingly fair reasoning. For example, many can liquidated assets, offer reduced fair pre-bought tickets for the future or conduct business in other ways that may still be at a loss, but shows some effort. Unfortunately, almost none of the applying companies even remotely tried strategies like this, and instead rely on government bailouts that are designed to help people, not companies.
As with everything else, COVID has changed the airline industry.travel as we know it is going to take years to go back to the way it was if that ever does happen. But in the meantime let’s hope the companies in the travel sector can adapt, incorporate new strategies, and survive the pandemic like the rest of us.
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