With 80 percent of America’s population — about 265 million people — under some form of lockdown, the airline industry has been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of flights have been grounded, and once-bustling airports have turned into ghost towns.
Big airlines have announced a dismal outlook — expecting to fly only about 20 percent of its domestic routes, and between 10 to 20 percent of its international schedule.
An average of 1 of every 5 seats actually being filled.
Some regional jet services hired by American, Delta and United Airlines have halted operations — leaving many airline workers furloughed permanently like Fil-Am flight attendant Pebbles Edwards.
“We have people getting laid off, people going through furlough. Some of the airlines are shutting down and some of them are cutting down drastically.”
The Trump administration has pledged to come to the aid of the crippled airline industry.
Recently, Congress approved 50 billion dollars in aid for U.S. airlines as part of the historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Half of that aid is available in grants that don’t need to be paid back — provided the airlines have to maintain payroll and commit not to furlough workers through September 30.
Airlines have to also keep a certain level of service to be able to get government aid.
Airlines are also meeting with the department of transportation to allow them to consolidate services to dozens of cities around the country in an effort to limit expenses.
“We’re ready to go. But if we didn’t do that we would end up with no airlines and we can’t do that. The airline business is very vital to our country.”
While it remains to be seen when this coronavirus pandemic will be fully contained — and when more people will travel again — airline workers like Edwards are staying positive.
“I know in the end, we’re strong and we will survive.”