FIt is exactly ten years ago to the day that a cloud darkened the business prospects of aviation in Europe. Hardly visible ash dust from a volcano in Iceland forced airlines to the ground. It was the largest traffic disruption in decades – but the effects of the corona crisis are more formidable for the airline industry. On Monday they led to an aviation selection day:
The second largest Australian airline, Virgin Atlantic, went into voluntary bankruptcy management, the ailing low-cost airline Norwegian announced the bankruptcy of its personnel companies for Danish and Swedish flight attendants and pilots. And the Cabinet met in South Africa – on the agenda the possible from the state company South African Airways after 86 years.
Tens of thousands of employees fear
The damage caused by the ash emitted by Eyjafjallajökull volcano was estimated by the Iata World Aviation Association at that time to be $ 1.7 billion, and the corona loss estimates for 2020 were already $ 314 billion. The development initially affects airlines that were affected before the virus spread. The first corona victim of aviation is the British company Flybe, which stumbled in early March. At that time, there were no far-reaching travel restrictions in most EU countries, and the lack of business people was enough for the decline. Flybe was on the brink at the beginning of the year, the British government deferred taxes in the hundreds of millions. There was no further help.
The crisis is driving the consolidation that has been under discussion for many years. In Australia, the market leader Qantas has the prospect of an extensive monopoly. With the step into bankruptcy administration, more than 10,000 employees at Virgin Australia fear for their jobs. The government of the State of Queensland had pledged another $ 200 million if the federal government injected $ 1.4 billion.
On Monday, however, the government is said to have announced that no further support is expected. By the end of February, Virgin had posted a half-year loss of $ 88.6 million. At that time, $ 1.1 billion in cash was offset by a mountain of debt of $ 5.3 billion. A bankruptcy trustee, probably from Deloitte, should now be trying to find foreign buyers – prospects uncertain.
In South Africa, the government is still struggling for the future of air travel. With the end of South African (SAA), the country of traditional “home carriers” would lose. Last week, the government declined Rand 10 billion in state aid. How close the end is imminent is shown by a proposal from external administrators to lay off all 4700 employees by the end of April against severance payments. However, the plan has not yet been decided. There are discussions with unions about alternatives to the previous business model. Two unions rejected the proposal because they had not submitted a restructuring plan. SAA employs 10,000 people.