The staggering daily loss was addressed during a recent virtual town hall meeting, with the airline’s employees; in which United CEO, Oscar Munoz, and President, Scott Kirby, shared that although the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) will help support payroll through to September, the carrier is losing more money than initially anticipated.
Kirby warned that the operator must be prepared for more uncertain times, as the world rides out the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Kirby also said that he no longer expects a quick rebound — or a recovery within a matter of months — from the pandemic. The carrier was making a base assumption that demand would fall around 30% during the fourth quarter.
United is not alone. Delta Air Lines has also announced that they are losing more than $60 million every day in revenues, and that they expect the situation to worsen, with an expected 90 percent drop in sales in the second quarter, due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“The reality is that we simply don’t know how long it will take for the virus to be contained and customers to be ready to fly again.”Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian
Preparing For Tough Days Ahead
Hopes are being pinned on COVID-19 cases reaching a peak, then reducing. If cases begin to rise again, United will need to find a way of reducing their cost structure even further; cutting any cash burn down to zero. This will mean jobs being up for review – something the airline is currently able to mitigate because of the CARES act.
Frequent Flyer Status and Travel Credits Extended
United and Delta are extending the validity of all electronic certificates (aka travel credits) for up to two years. This includes all existing and new electronic certificates, issued since 1st April 2020.
For the 2021 status year, United is reducing thresholds for Premier qualification by 50% for each status level. A minimum of four flight segments on United will still be required.
Free Flights to New York City
In a show of solidarity and support, United is partnering with New York City to provide free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help in the front line fight against the COVID-19 crisis.
New York is at the epicentre of the US outbreak; the airline’s collaboration with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, and a network of medical volunteer organisations including The Society of Critical Care Medicine, will ensure much needed doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the country can reach the city.
There is no doubt that 2020 will be the toughest year on record for the airline, they will be joined by all other airlines in hoping for a very different 2021.