www.neweurope.eu-Grounded Brussels Airlines aircraft on the tarmac at Zaventem International Airport.
The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the future of airlines in Europe. A prolonged travel ban is adding deep industry-wide uncertainty for the upcoming months as millions of passengers are demanding refunds for cancelled flights.
Several countries across the EU have pledged massive bailouts for their aviation industry to prevent catastrophic repercussions from the grounding of airline fleets and millions in lost revenue.
Aerospace manufacturing giant Airbus, one of Europe’s flagship companies, has announced it will slash production by a third, with its chief executive, Guillaume Faury, saying that the company is “bleeding cash”.
While the European Commission is set to present a strategy in mid-May to get planes back in the sky, it remains unclear when travel operations will resume. Brussels has indicated that have it is unlikely that the tourism sector will reopen for non-EU foreigners before July 1. For Europe’s tourism-dependent south, however, where the sector accounts for 15%-30% of the GDPs of Italy, Greece, and Spain, the virus outbreak risks causing irreparable damage to their economies.
But with companies like Lufthansa, KLM, and Air France losing millions of euros each day and with air traffic in Europe down by more than 80%, questions remain about the long-term health of the airline industry in the European Union.