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Airline industry faces hardships as coronavirus continues to grow

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – While San Francisco has a shelter in place order in effect, SFO is exempt and remains open for business, but inside some restaurants are closed and those open are only offering take out.  In addition many retail stores are closed.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel says, “We made provisions for essential services like travel agencies shipping, newsstands, but typical specialty retail you will find closed throughout the airport.”

Also striking is how there are only a few people walking throughout the airport.

Coronavirus related flight restrictions have had a big impact.

Yakel adds, “Right now we are at a 30% reduction in international traffic, but we are seeing reduced passenger volume at both international and domestic.”

Shelter in place orders allow for only essential travel reducing the spread of the coronavirus, but doesn’t help the airline industry, which has already asked the government for 58 billion dollars in grants, loan guarantees, and tax relief. 

Tuesday the President said the government has the airlines back,

“We are going to back the airlines 100%, not their fault, it’s nobody’s fault,” Trump said.

The question is will that money be enough to keep airlines in business.

Industry analysts say there are just too many unknowns, especially how long the pandemic will last. 

Travel analyst Henry Harteveldt from the atmosphere research group says, “Even the crisis of 9/11 grounded planes in the US for 4 days and then they went back to rebuilding their schedules. We were afraid to fly after that, but we flew.”

“Now you have people who may have ongoing concerns about being around large crowds, we don’t know if people will be comfortable when we come out of this being in an airport surrounded by hundreds of strangers, being in an airplane, being in a hotel,” Harteveldt  said. 

Too many unknowns including how long this pandemic will last and how many other jurisdictions will order their residents to stay home.  

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