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COVID-19: JetBlue Airways’ moves show industry in throes of crisis

Premium Analysis

Airlines that entered the COVID-19 crisis in reasonably sound financial shape are now issuing dire warnings about their daily cash burn and the remarkable drop in demand. 

JetBlue is one of those airlines, stressing that the USD10 million it is burning through daily is, unsurprisingly, unsustainable, and the company is working to raise additional cash as it scrutinises the minutiae of a support package from the US government. The airline is also grounding a significant portion of its fleet to support massive capacity cuts in the short term. 

JetBlue’s moves show that the US remains in the eye of the storm and operators cannot dedicate a lot of time to thinking about a post COVID-19 environment – other than to determine that some things will never be the same. 

One stipulation of the aid from the US government is that airlines maintain minimum domestic service levels, largely based on schedules for Mar-2020, with some exceptions.

Nevertheless, it is less than clear that demand in the US will actually match those minimum capacity levels; JetBlue and all airlines are scurrying to craft schedules that meet those requirements, since the bottoming out of demand may not yet have occurred. 

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