|>>|| No. 8469
The majority of UK (and Irish) airlines, and travel agents, and particularly those companies that are both combined, are already, to be blunt, completely fucked. Most of these companies operate on an expand-every-summer plan, meaning they've already spent all your holiday money on planes, staff, and handling contracts long before you've ever gone on holiday. This works great, unless something happens that stops literally everyone going on holiday, and everyone wants their money back.
Companies like TUI are using recently booked holiday deposits to try to refund customers who couldn't fly a year ago, and it's all going to collapse on them like a house of cards. They don't own planes, they only lease them - so as soon as they look like they're fucked, they'll be forced to bankrupt and their only hope of clawing back income will disappear. This happened to Flybe the very second a corona quarantine was even considered. This will also likely impact the huge companies that lease these aircraft, because any surviving airline will not be thinking about expansion for years. Same goes for ground handling companies, who were already struggling. Very few airlines do their own baggage handling, towing etc, because the equipment and staffing involved is very expensive. You can board, service and fly a plane with about 5 ground staff, but it takes about 10 or 15 to handle bags, refuel, operate steps, tow the plane off stand, etc.
The big holiday airlines are burning through customer money, government bailouts, aircraft parking fees, continuous maintenance (you can't just leave a plane mothballed for months without stacking up very expensive liabilities, and they need to fly every few weeks to remain certified)
There is exactly ONE airline in the UK that has been recognised by the CAA as being competent and prompt with refunds. Literally just one - Jet2. They also happen to own all of their planes, and their holiday business and airline business are technically separate, though both operated under one PLC; even if all holidays are cancelled for the next five years they still own 90 odd planes. They haven't touched a penny of the government money the other airlines have eaten up, and since they're one of the only airlines that does their own ground handling, they do not need to worry about someone like Swissport collapsing and leaving them grounded.
However, they're not a cheap airline. Their tagline used to be 'friendly low fares' but they're pretty much at flag carrier prices now. I think the customer service they'd displayed over the last year will still drive a lot of people to them, because it looks like you can trust your money with them no matter what happens, but there's a huge chunk of punters that can't and won't pay £400 for a flight to the canaries and back when Ryanair does it for £15.
Jet2 are probably an airline you've never heard of unless you're northern, but I expect them to be making big plays as soon as they can, because they're in such a massively good position compared to anyone else. The industry rumour at the start of the pandemic was they could operate for an entire year with zero flights and still be net positive in cash, which is a bit mental for any company, but 1000x so for an airline.
BA will also be fine, because their domestic flights will not ever lose momentum, and they don't really lease aircraft, with the exception of having to wet lease to replace their dodgy 787s a while back, but that's priced in to a BA ticket.
I don't think we'll see any of the big tourist airlines disappear completely within the next few years, as they have investors with deep pockets who will keep them afloat, but ticket prices will be up and flight frequency and certainly expansion will hit the floor. TUI has their fingers in cruiseliners too, and a strong Dreamliner fleet that basically print money, but they're still the shakiest in my opinion. Easyjet have very strong slots and serve the majority of northern irish tourism travel and short domestic, so they'll take a hit but I can't see them bankrupting. If they own planes (I don't know and can't be arsed to look) they will sell or lease a portion of them, or else just pare down the fleet. Ryanair fly too many internal spanish flights to be in real trouble, but pre pandemic their plan was to move their bases to smaller, cheaper airports to cut even more costs, so I can imagine doing that more quickly and more dramatically than they were. A Ryanair pilot also pointed out to be that they could double the price of every single ticket and still more than likely be the cheapest possible flight to any given destination, so there's that too.
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