Europe’s airlines have taken only 15% of pre-Covid summer bookings this year, according to an industry analyst.
Aviation consultant John Strickland of JLS Consulting said Europe’s airlines had recorded only 12% of revenue and 15% of May to September bookings this year compared with those made by 20 March 2019.
“Part of the summer at least, is going to be a write-off,” he said.
Speaking at the World Aviation Festival Virtual, Strickland said: “It is amazing to think we were talking about this a year ago and hoping it was only going to last a matter of months.”
The UK’s traffic light system, he said, was “stuck on red” because no details had yet emerged of which destinations would fall into which category.
Many airlines were downsizing, he added, particularly by shedding wide-body aircraft. While Ryanair and Wizz Air were expanding, Norwegian was reverting to short-haul and easyJet had a contract with Airbus whereby it could shrink its fleet in the next couple of years.
Strickland said he expected long-haul airlines to be hit by lower demand for business travel after the pandemic. “I am a strong believer that a strong percentage of this traffic will not come back on long-haul. It is a massive expenditure and companies are playing the environmental card.
“A big amount can be cut and those airlines that rely on that business model will have to adapt.”
He predicted Emirates would switch to smaller aircraft but would build back passenger numbers because one-third of its traffic was point-to-point to Dubai.
Strickland predicted New York’s JetBlue would be successful in its transatlantic UK debut, due this summer. The airline would be a “disrupter”, he said, with “very high spec” in business class and lower pricing from its use of single aisle aircraft.
“I would give them far more than a fighting chance that it will be successful,” he added.