Airlines around the world are facing up to the reality that air travel is unlikely ever to return to the levels of late 2019, and certainly not within the life of many of their fleet of aircraft. Lufthansa is early off the blocks in announcing that 6 x A380s, 7 x A340-600s and 5 x B747-400s are to go, with another 11 x A320s removed from duty. Subsidiaries Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings will lose 3 x A340-300s and 10 x A320s, Business Traveller reports.
Emirates are seeking to delay delivery of 8 x A380s, difficult as the aircraft are already in production. And of course Ryan Air have 20 x B737-MAX200s on order - rarely can new additions to a fleet be so unwanted.
It's not just aircraft that are unwanted. Airports face hard times, in some cases after having invested heavily in upgrades. Probably just as well LHR never got its new runway - it will never be needed now. I can see many smaller European airports closing down altogether - too many depend on bribing Easyjet or Ryan Air, and too many just want Summer visitor traffic.
But it's not those holiday-home flights that make money for the airlines but business travel; Politico EU carries a story which I think reflects an unwarranted optimism - "Business travel will come back when HR departments and corporate
general counsels decide on a duty-of-care basis that they can relax
their prohibition on travel, or actually come out and say, 'It’s time to
go travel again'". Of course, with half the world learning to Zoom, manage Whatsapp groups and installing Signal on their phones, those HR departments may just decide that those trips are unnecessary. Of course, folk need to learn how to use those apps. Reader, I have just sent apologies for two Zoom meetings in a row - they are proving an indulgence for those craving attention but who have little of any importance to say. I'm not spending an hour linked to people (who can't pick up boredom signals) to do something that could have been done by email in five minutes.
Even our EU trade talks have resumed, albeit at low speed akin to a crawl, without over the table meetings. Oh, these will be needed at some stage, of course they will; one cannot dispense with all the NVC and interpersonal chemistry, but just maybe we will learn to exhaust the preliminaries by other means before an actual meeting. One can only hope.