The former chief executive of Aer Lingus parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), Willie Walsh, has said that the airline industry is never going to get back to the way it was before the coronavirus pandemic, stating that it will be smaller but more efficient in the future.
"It's never going to get back to the way it was," Walsh, who retired as IAG CEO earlier this month, said in an online interview with Europe's organisation for the safety of air navigation, Eurocontrol.
Looking five years ahead, Walsh forecast that it will be a smaller industry and there will be fewer players. Most of the consolidation will initially come through failures, he said, as he also predicted that COVID-19 will make airlines more resilient.
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"Most airlines are restructuring in a very positive way. They're going to be more efficient and the cost base will be more variable. They'll be able to respond to crises going forward," he said.
"Very, Very Tough"
Looking at the next few months though, he said that it will be "very, very tough". Flight data shows that a hoped-for recovery in air travel in Europe has gone into reverse.
Eurocontrol said that European airlines such as British Airways and Ryanair have shown traffic declines of 4% over the last two weeks.
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