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AvTalk Episode 80: Grinding to a halt

On this special episode of AvTalk, Jason and Ian take stock of how the aviation industry has reacted to plummeting demand and ever changing government restrictions as the COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll.

Jason and a few others are maintaining a useful list of airline operations as some airlines reduce their planned schedule by more than half and some halt all flying entirely. In addition to cutting flights, airlines are putting aircraft in storage, moving forward fleet retirement dates, and deferring delivery of new aircraft.

The number of operated flights began falling precipitously this week as restrictions were put in place. Commercial air traffic is now 10% below where it was in March 2019 and falling.

7-day moving average of commercial traffic 2019 vs 2020Meanwhile, the pandemic is taking a toll on the people who make the airline industry work, as airlines cut staff, some upwards of 90%. And the actual virus has also impacted air traffic controllers in places like Chicago-Midway and Las Vegas, where the control towers are closed for deep cleaning and flights at those airports operate on a reduced schedule.

This episode unfortunately doesn’t have answers to the questions we’re all asking, but we did want to provide some tools to help see what may come next.

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