As virus cases spike, financial outlook for airlines dims

A shelter is seen at the Thomas Dixon Aircraft Observation Area as a Southwest Airlines flight from Jacksonville, Fla., makes its landing approach onto Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Glen Burnie, Md.  With coronavirus cases spiking in the U.S. and Europe, the financial outlook of the world's airlines is getting worse. The International Air Transport Association said Tuesday that around the world, airlines will lose more than $157 billion this year and next. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A shelter is seen at the Thomas Dixon Aircraft Observation Area as a Southwest Airlines flight from Jacksonville, Fla., makes its landing approach onto Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Glen Burnie, Md. With coronavirus cases spiking in the U.S. and Europe, the financial outlook of the world's airlines is getting worse. The International Air Transport Association said Tuesday that around the world, airlines will lose more than $157 billion this year and next. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

With coronavirus cases spiking in the U.S. and Europe, the financial outlook of the world’s airlines is getting worse.

Airlines will lose more than $157 billion over this year and next because of the pandemic, their main trade group said on Tuesday,

The forecast from the International Air Transport Association was worse than the group's June estimate of $100 billion in losses for the two years.

The latest estimate breaks down to airlines losing $66 for every passenger carried this year.

The trade group’s chief, Alexandre de Juniac, said that without $173 billion in aid from governments, the airline industry would have suffered “massive” bankruptcies.

However, the trade group now sees a quicker recovery. It said airlines will begin taking in more cash than they spend in the fourth quarter of 2021, earlier than it had previously forecast, on the belief that travel will increase as COVID-19 vaccines become available.

U.S. airline stocks rose Tuesday on further encouraging news about vaccines. But industry officials are pressuring governments around the world to move more quickly by lifting travel restrictions for passengers who test negative for the new coronavirus.

“We cannot wait for the vaccine that will not be fully available before mid-2021,” de Juniac said. “We need testing in the meantime.”