IATA Projects More Losses for Airline Industry, Stocks Down

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The crisis faced by the U.S. Airline industry, courtesy of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is likely to deepen in the coming days, considering the latest forecast made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). While IATA released poor forecast data for airline passenger revenues on Apr 14, United Airlines announced its skepticism toward the industry’s growth on Apr 15.

Consequently, U.S. airline stocks have taken a beating over the past three days.

IATA Forecast

In its latest report, IATA announced that it expects global airline passenger revenues to decline $314 billion in 2020, a 55% downside from 2019. This indicates a deteriorating scenario for airline stocks, considering the fact that on Mar 24, IATA had estimated a 44% year-over-year decline in passenger revenues for 2020.

Notably, a drastic fall in global passenger demand due to widespread travel restrictions following the pandemic is the reason behind such a cut in projections for the industry. In early April, the number of flights globally was down 80% compared to 2019, thanks to severe travel restrictions.

IATA further estimated that the most severe impact of this phenomenon is expected to hit airline stocks in the second quarter.

United Airlines’ View

United Airlines, which holds approximately 15% market share, announced that air travel demand has been “essentially zero” in recent times and it expects no sign of improvement in the near term.

To tackle the situation, the carrier decided to further reduce its flight schedule in May to roughly 10% of what it had planned at the start of 2020, while similar cuts are in store for the month of June.

Moreover, management declared that demand is expected to remain suppressed for the remainder of 2020 and next year. This might have spooked airline investors who were already worried due to the IATA projection.

Consequently, the big four U.S. airline stocks have lost more than 5% since Apr 14.

Stocks in Focus

Carriers have grounded hundreds of jetliners and are asking thousands of employees to take voluntary unpaid leave in a race to cut costs as cancellations outpace bookings. This indicates the huge losses they are incurring amid the current economic turmoil and their efforts to keep stability in their balance sheet.

Herein we discuss four major U.S. airlines that witnessed great upheaval following the coronavirus outbreak. These companies hold approximately two-third of the U.S. market and have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

United Airlines UAL: More than 20,000 employees of this company have accepted voluntary leave and separation programs as it seeks to reduce labor expenses. Although the company expects to receive $5 billion aid as government payroll support under the CARES Act, which bars it from involuntary furloughs before Sep 30, the airline indicated that it may cut payroll after that.

Delta Air Lines DAL: This carrier has suspended several technology projects due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted over 1,300 jobs at its outsourcing vendors in its home country and in India. Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said 21,000 of the company’s employees have volunteered for unpaid leave of various lengths, nearly a quarter of the full-timeequivalent employees the airline had at the end of the year.

American Airlines AAL: Even after expecting to get $12 billion in financial assistance from the U.S. government, many expect the company’s employees to get notable pay cuts. Further, more than 700 of its pilots accepted an early retirement offer, according to the Allied Pilots Association. It is also offering voluntary unpaid leave in a bid to lower costs

Southwest Airlines LUV: In March, more than 20,000 of its employees voluntarily took between one and 14 days of without pay leave or time off as stated by Bob Jordan, executive vice president of Corporate Services, in an internal message to employees viewed by the Dallas Business Journal.

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Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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