The COVID-19 pandemic has almost brought travel by air in the U.S. to a halt.
Passenger traffic is down about 94 percent, and half of the industry’s 6,215 planes are parked at major airports and desert airstrips, according to Airlines for America, a trade group.
Now, with the opening up of the country, airlines expect an increase in domestic travel over the extended holiday weekend for Memorial Day on May 25.
U.S. carriers JetBlue Airways Corp and United Airlines Holdings Inc announced new safety measures on Wednesday aimed at restoring confidence in travel as several executives pointed to signs domestic demand is improving.
The current crisis could push some airlines, especially smaller ones, into bankruptcy or make them takeover targets.
Consumer fears about catching the virus on crowded planes could lead to reconfigured seating. Carriers may initially entice wary travelers with discounts, but if they can’t fill up flights, they may resort to raising ticket prices.
Nigel Bell, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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