United told their employees today to expect deep flight cuts, as demand falls off a cliff:
.@united to cut capacity by 50% for April, May and likely beyond. Corporate officers take a 50% pay cut. Airline anticipating load factors in the 20-30% range, #coronavirus estimated to cost the airline $1.5bn in March. 1 million fewer passengers so far in March vs 2019 pic.twitter.com/vYCMhTUxM1
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) March 16, 2020
Starting tomorrow, they will reduce systemwide capacity by 50% in April and May, and they expect the cuts to continue into the peak summer travel season.
They’re also prepared for a scenario where demand drops to zero, which would require the airline to temporarily suspend operations, as some European airlines have already done.
Of course those orders could also come from the government, even if demand doesn’t fall to zero.
United notes that the airline industry’s problems are a catch-22, as getting people to fly means that society will be more at risk:
“Together, we’re facing an unprecedented challenge. When medical experts say that our health and safety depends on people staying home and practicing social distancing, it’s nearly impossible to run a business whose shared purpose is “Connecting people. Uniting the world.”