Avionics News June 2020 - 32

industry

SPARRING
WITH

CORONAVIRUS
B Y

D A V E

T

he coronavirus pandemic swept through
the aviation industry like an outbreak of
extreme turbulence in early March, laying low
everyone's business plans for 2020. The business and
general aviation sectors were not hit nearly as hard as the
airlines, and the travel flexibility of private aviation may
play a key role in the recovery.
On April 8, the Transportation Security Administration
registered 96% fewer passengers being screened for
airline travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead
of screening 2.3 million passengers, TSA agents were
seeing just 95,000. Airlines were parking aircraft on
runways, announcing massive cuts to flight schedules
and hunkering down for a period of minimal air travel.
Some airlines started massive layoffs, while others
warned they may be coming soon. In April, no one knew
how long the crisis might last.
Prior to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max in 2019,
both Boeing and Airbus were manufacturing aircraft
as fast as possible and looking for more workers for
expansion. But when the coronavirus hit, the shock sent
32

avionics news

H U G H E S

Image: freepik.com

S T O R Y

*

june

2020

the segment from boom to bust overnight, and soon,
factories were idled to protect workers from getting sick
with the deadly virus. It was time to rethink the business
plans for 2020 and the next few years.
Athar Husain Khan, secretary general of the European
Business Aviation Association, said the segment was
severely affected in Europe. An EBAA survey of 130
chief executive officers found one-third of operators
stopped operations after the pandemic hit. About 25%
of companies laid off staff, and 50% put staff on leave.
The top concern of business aviation owners and
operators became liquidity and cash flow. Khan spoke
about this on April 8 during an Aviation International
News webinar about the COVID-19 virus and business
aviation.
"I echo all that Kahn said," added Pete Bunce,
president and CEO of the General Aviation
Manufacturers Association, during the webinar. He said
the industry is taking graduated measures to respond
to changing circumstances. Bunce noted that the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum


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Avionics News June 2020

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