Estimated hit to global air passenger revenues quadruples to $113 billion. Stocks of top-seven US airlines plunged 30% in 15 trading days, after getting massacred today.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
The shares of the top seven US airlines reacted sharply today, with drops as of mid-afternoon ranging from -6.8% for Delta to -16% for Spirit Airlines, which is now down 49% since January 17 before the coronavirus threatened the travel industry. Since January 17:
- Delta Air Lines [DAL]: -28%
- Southwest Airlines [LUV]: -18%
- United Airlines [UAL]: -35%
- American Airlines [AAL]: -42%
- Alaska Air Group [ALK]: -34%
- JetBlue Airways [JBLU]: -27%
- Spirit Airlines [SAVE]: -49%
But the plunge got going seriously after February 12, essentially forming a straight line down, with the value of the top seven US airlines plunging a combined 30% in 15 trading days (market cap data provided by YCharts):
Amid a constant drumbeat of airline warnings of capacity cuts not only on international flights to affected areas but now also within the US – and within the domestic markets of other countries – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its new estimates this morning of the potential damage to passenger revenues for airlines. But it has not yet released estimates for the potential damage to the air cargo business.
The IATA’s new estimates see a spectrum between two scenarios for 2020:
- In the “limited spread” scenario, where the virus is “contained in the current markets with over 100 cases as of March 2,” global passenger revenues would take a $63-billion hit, or 11% of revenues in 2020.
- In the “extensive spread” scenario, where the virus is in “all markets that currently have 10 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 2 March,” and “with a broader spreading” of the virus, global passenger revenues would take a $113-billion hit, or 19% of revenues in 2020.
This extensive-spread scenario nearly quadruples the prior estimate of just two weeks ago, when on February 20, the IATA saw a hit of $29 billion to global passenger revenues in 2020, most of it relating to markets associated with China. Now it has become clear that the virus has spread far beyond China, and that it impacts ticket purchases on routes far beyond China, such as even domestic flights in the US.
“In little over two months, the industry’s prospects in much of the world have taken a dramatic turn for the worse,” said the IATA report, which pleaded for governments to step in and provide relief for airlines. And it added, “It is unclear how the virus will develop, but whether we see the impact contained to a few markets and a $63 billion revenue loss, or a broader impact leading to a $113 billion loss of revenue, this is a crisis.”
Airlines hanging on by their fingernails will let go or get a bailout.
The first to let go was UK airline Flybe, and its sister carrier Stobart Air, which were grounded Thursday morning and entered bankruptcy administration. Passengers were left stranded. Flybe accounted for well over one-third of the domestic flights in the UK.
Flybe was acquired in January 2019 by Connect Airways, a consortium consisting of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group, and investment advisory firm Cyrus Capital Partners. The airline was already teetering at the time, and the consortium picked it up for a song (about £2.8 million).
The consortium injected some cash into the airline, most recently in January, and the government provided some relief on payment terms of the air-passenger tax. But a hoped-for larger bailout from the government didn’t happen. And given the stress put on the airline industry as a whole by the coronavirus, the consortium decided not to fund the airline further. And abandoned by its owners, it collapsed today.
Other weak airlines will either collapse as well, or will be bailed out. The Chinese government has already taken over HNA Group, the conglomerate that owns about 18 airlines in China and Hong Kong.
Another airline on this list is Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which has been losing a ton of money with its low-cost international flights. It forced its bondholders last year into what was effectively a debt restructuring. Today it withdrew its guidance due to the coronavirus. Its shares plunged 13% today to 15.85 Norwegian Krone (= $1.70), having lost 94% since their spike in August 2018.
Top US airlines warn, cut, cancel, and get hammered.
Airlines in the US have communicated that they’re cutting international and domestic routes. United Airlines told employees that it would cut domestic capacity by 10% next month, and that it would cut international capacity by another 20%, on top of the cuts it had already made, such as shutting down its extensive China routes and many of its flights to South Korea and Italy. These cuts could reach into May.
Other US airlines, in addition to suspending their China routes, have also cut flights to Italy and South Korea.
But it’s the cutting of domestic capacity that is now cropping up in the US and in other countries as well, as conferences get cancelled one after the other, thus shutting down the conference-going circus, and as companies exhort their employees to eliminate unnecessary business trips and switch to online tools, and as vacation trips are being put on hold.
Southwest Airlines warned this morning in an SEC filing that “in recent days, the Company has experienced a significant decline in Customer demand, as well as an increase in trip cancellations, which is assumed to be attributable to concerns relating to reported cases of COVID-19.” This is US domestic demand – by spooked Americans that are just now starting to practice the art of “social distancing.”
Even for its still pre-coronavirus quarter, Navistar reported that its Truck revenues collapsed by 31%. Read… “COVID-19 Added to this Uncertainty:” Orders & Sales of Heavy Trucks & Medium-Duty Trucks Plunge in the US
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I can see the writing on the wall now.The US government will soon be bailing out the airlines, bailing out the banks, and bailing out the hotel owners, but not their employees.
But if you show up at the hospital with the virus and have a high deductible insurance plan like me $6500 deductible you get nothing. Watch this space it’s going to be a replay of the 08/09 financial crisis where are the owners of capital will be bailed out and the rest of us plebes can go pound sand.
Frank I think you’re correct of course but it will probably be much worse this time around
Amen. The middle class and the poor will also likely do all of the dying, while their lives could be but are not being saved to protect the interests of the rich and banksters. E.g., I am sure that the coronavirus has caused at least some of the banksters’ derivatives bets to lose money: most derivatives are about shifting risk to the banks/Wall Street firms in exchange for a payment. See OCC report for December 2019, which indicates that banks have derivatives exposure amounting to over $201 trillion, in page 12 of that report.
In particular, this government is not taking even minimal, 15th-century quarantine procedures, which are known to work. They fear that it would disrupt their businesses more.
Making travel between infected areas and other areas very slow and difficult (or impossible) is the only thing that would slow the spread of a very contagious disease like the coronavirus. Closing of airports in infected areas, blocking of roads (except to bring in food and necessities), and stopping of outbound trains (unless empty) would work. Quarantines are known to have worked in past epidemics.
Even the WHO is reporting that such quarantines work: e.g., when a large area or a city is quarantined in China (albeit there the government negligently allowed the virus to spread so widely that it is now just allowing thousands to die), the inhabitants can be forced to stay in quarantine stations, if they want to leave it until it is established that they are not infected. This is how the black death reportedly was stopped long ago in many areas.
This government acts like patients with a broken, gangrenous limb and no available treatment: they insist that it should not be amputated out of panic (from fear of not being re-elected or having their supporters lose income); as time passes, the condition becomes worse and more and more of their limb must be amputated or they become more and more likely to die. Like gangrene, this virus is now spreading in many US communities in an uncontrolled and unknown way.
Flights, airports, train stations, bus stations, buses, schools, and trains could be shuttered with reasonable measures, as is being done in Italy. E.g., flights between Washington and the rest of the US, are currently circulating the virus all over each plane’s passenger cabin. See https://www.askthepilot.com/questionanswers/cabin-air-quality/.
Most passenger planes do not have adequate cabin filters or UV filters sufficient to protect passengers from coronavirus (and airlines only clean the airplane at the END of each day.) Coronavirus might live on seats, armrests, etc., for days, until disinfectants kill it at the end of each day — if the plane truly is cleaned very carefully in all areas.
Therefore, planes, trains, and buses traveling from infected areas are contaminating large numbers of their passengers with coronavirus, if even one of those passengers initially has coronavirus on boarding. They are spreading the coronavirus all over the USA.
Thus, due to incompetence, the virus will spread all over each city to which the passengers are traveling via airplane/bus/train. We have no vaccine nor effective, preventive medicine, and US citizens are actually being discouraged from using the masks and other protective equipment that other countries’ government leaders apologize for not providing (e.g., South Korea.)
I am beginning to wonder if this is just incredible recklessness or gross negligence or effectively negligent manslaughter by the US government. At a minimum, I urge you to consider whether traveling on planes/buses/trains that might have carried infected passengers that day is not like a slightly safer way of playing Russian roulette.
”Social Distancing” indeed, Wolf,,, is that yours, or are you the first to put that particular concept into here, and if so, i hope you are able to spread it web wide, if for no other reason than to put our next gen folks on notice..
“Social distancing is the technical term now used to describe one of the primary prevention methods. It means: stay at home, don’t mix with crowds, don’t get on mass transit, don’t stand in a security line at the airport, don’t stand in line at the Costco panic-buying toilet paper.
Social distancing has its own Wikipedia entry now.
damn – but my wife said we going out to eat tonight
should I don a mask?
Social distancing sounds crazy to me. I’m for seeing the world, enjoying life, etc – currently writing from Lisbon, Portugal on vacation.
There was no security line at LAX yesterday morning, but it could partially be because we had an early flight and went in at 6am.
I didn’t see too many empty seats, though we upgraded to economy-plus for only $40 on the Newark-Lisbon leg and that’s possibly why.
It seemed that the Newark hub had plenty of people.
I only noticed a few face masks, though quite a few are using hand sanitizer to wipe down the armrests and seat trays.
I’m kind of wondering if Southwest will become a screaming buy at some point, but I won’t take it unless panic drives it to a 5-year low which is way below where it’s currently at.
Wow, my wife said I will survive because I am protected by something more effective than social distancing and its all natural It’s being an A– Hole .
The bail is not of the borrowers of the capital but of the owners of the capital.
Ie Greek bail out of mostly of German capital owners.
I just had surgery at top medical center in San Franciso, not one doctor, nurse, LVN, office person was concerned one iota, they called it the flu, which it is….
Fear is selling and the sheep are buying it…
“…they called it the flu, which it is…”
You sent my BS-o-Meter is redlining. You’re spreading fake propaganda. From your prior comments, I know you’re a perma-bull, and your soul is aching, but that doesn’t excuse this sort of thing.
Just hot off the press today in the SF Chronicle, headline: “SF General nurses, doctors argue hospital’s understaffing will hurt efforts to handle coronavirus outbreak”
First three paragraphs:
“As officials ramp up efforts to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus, San Francisco General Hospital’s nurses and doctors fear the overcrowded and understaffed medical center is not prepared to handle an imminent local outbreak.
“The public health emergency — including two confirmed cases in San Francisco — underscores the potential dire consequences of the hospital’s chronic lack of resources, city health workers said at a rally and Board of Supervisors committee hearing on Thursday.
“We’re on the verge of a pandemic and we have no proper staffing — we are not ready,” said Theresa Rutherford, a nursing assistant at Laguna Honda Hospital, the city’s long-term care facility. “The nurses have been warning this city. They have not listened.”
This is exactly what happened in China ( Wuhan ), 100X to 1000x more than normal people descended upon the hospitals, that was mid January, by February the doctors and staff were exhausted on ‘on strike’
Now USA has a 2-3 month lag, certainly somebody see’s this coming?
I think that USA has this big problem of “Who will pay?”, everybody knows its coming ( same as hit China ) triage is setup to handle a few dozen ICU a day, not 1,000’s. Not enough beds, not enough ICU rooms, not enough shift’s & people available.
Like the ‘test-kits’ in early January Xi demanded millions of test-kits in two weeks, he got them in ten days. To date Trump has still not done anything, other than say ‘This shall pass”.
The problem is our insurance narrative society. Even Trump admitted the other day that insurance is not for the ‘unknown’ insurance is for the known. USA can & could print trillions to boost the hospitals with correct test-kits and beds, but how does that empower the US-MIL? How does that help goal #1, e.g. perpetuating US hegemony??
IMHO the same thing that happened in China is coming to all hospitals in USA, they will be over-whelmed people will be dying on the floors, waiting for days to see a doctor. Everybody saw this coming, but nobody did anything. Why? Because there was no money in it, in fact there is more money in calamity, there is no money in prudence. In calamity major corporate hospital chains will get richer, and bailed out, long after all the corpses are cremated.
This is win-win for the medical-complex USA; Out of the insanity will become bigger more powerful medical monopoly’s. The insane are running the US gov.
Meanwhile I can call a local number here in Asia and be ‘tested’ anytime I wish, there are no shortage of test-kits for free. The GOV wants people to come forward, who even think they might have the virus, the GOV cares about its people. That’s the big difference these days between Asia & the West, in the west IMHO they want the general population to die. I think this failure to manufacture test-kits was all along a means to deny the virus was spawned in the USA from day one. Early as September 2019 lots of people were dying in the USA from the ‘flu’, and now I expect to see lots of family’s in future demanding to see their loved ones exhumed and tested. I think we’re going to find out, that this virus was active in USA long before it hit China.
What if the virus turns up among the homeless population in the US ? What then ? Or among the poor that are just hanging on by their finger nails ? Where do those uninsured/underinsured get the needed medical care ? Emergency rooms will not be able to cope.
It is not the flu.
Problem with corona is that it is serious but not serious enough to do an hard quarantine like with ebola. So it will spread.
I fear that Saul Sessions’s comment is prophetic, except that I do not believe that this virus was here before it was in China. Our government will just allow this to happen due to incompetence.
I do not understand the CDC’s claims that some quarantines of specific infected areas would not work. I feel like I am watching a car accident as it happens: I was a passenger in a massive car accident long ago and I felt similarly helpless while the disaster slowly unfolded because time seemed to flow slowly.
Some points about Ebola (I read the Hot Zone before it was made into a movie): it kills so fast it has little time to spread. There is no long period of walking around with no symptoms.
Also luckily for us, it surfaced where travel on jets etc. was highly unusual and so it would ‘burn out’ in a village. Unfortunately it could be transmitted by touching or kissing a dead body.
When the team from CDC Atlanta got out to a clinic in Africa, they found the medical staff dead on the floor.
Unlike corona viruses, shaped like a ball, Ebola and cousin Marburg are thread viruses, looking like a piece of thread under E -scope.
Because they kill humans so fast, the virus can’t normally use humans as its host, it would die out. As far as I know, this has not been discovered. Chimps get it but also die from it.
The host of Cov 19 appears to be bats, which can carry a number of deadly (to us) viruses without harm to themselves .
Covid-19 which is a SARS version 2, is bad with a current mortality rate of 3.4%, must worse than the flu at 0.1% but it’s not as bad as Ebola, MERS or Smallpox.
So ya, I would worry.
The mortality rate seems to be key and there are wide discrepancies for this key stat across countries, locations within countries, age groups, time of infection, etc.
The fact is that the overwhelming bulk of infections/deaths have occurred in a single region of a single nation, very early on – that may be distorting statistics (including mortality rate).
It is worse. Ebola, SARS etc. are so bad that the question Quarantine or “save” the economy is not asked. With this it is think about what it would do to the economy if we do that. So it will spread.
Another one who states ‘it’s just a flu’.
It’s not. It’s a total different virus that resembles more the ‘common cold’ virus. which is also from the corona family. I don’t have to tell you there still is no cure, nor vaccine for the common cold (‘common’ meaning: “it’s everywhere” and not “it’s only”), nor is there a cure for the flu. So it could be that there will be none for COVID-19 for a long time. Bare in mind that a flu-vaccine, has a two year production time. That is, when you know what to make and it is approved by the FDA. That’s the reality we face.
The risk posed to vulnerable populations by “Not-The-Flu” is significant enough such that the nation’s hospital system could be overwhelmed if “Not-The-Flu” were allowed to spread unhindered.
It’s an odd and unprecedented confluence of events that must be evaluated from a system-wide perspective. Poor planning rooted in normalcy bias will simply extend the event both in terms of time and severity.
No they won’t.
Do you really think a Republican Administration will interfere in the market like that?
Of course not – and they shouldn’t.
Let the market work through this temporary problem. The strong will survive and prosper and the weak will be culled s they should be.
The USA is not a Socialist country and never will be.
NO BAILOUTS. NO WASTING TAXPAYER’S MONEY.
The Republicans were a part of the 2008 bailouts. So yes they would interfere. I wasn’t in favour of those bailouts. Both parties actively supported the bailouts, as well as all the federal reserve nonsense that have happened since then.
Yup they should have let the whole system collapse into the basement. Definitely the optimal outcome for all involved.
It is not the strong that survive but the lucky (or connected). That is not good for a market economy.
If this goes on than for instance airlines will go under. Not because they are badly run or take to much risk but because they had unlucky routes.
I thought the babe above was being sarcastic about the cull. Maybe not.
Little anecdote from the 29 Great Crash:
“my dad owned a hardware store. The week of the crash he said: great, those useless parasites finally got it in the neck’
6 months later he lost the store.
No doubt mistakes were made post 2008, but folks saying ‘let the chips fall where they may’ have led sheltered lives without realizing it.
I would be very surprised if hotel owners get bailed out, that would be a very big line to cross. So far only things that effect a large number of businesses “too big to fail, because of risk of systemic failure” get bailed out like car manufacturers and the banks. The airlines are somewhat essential to an extent, but individual hotels “even most hotel chains”, “except for a few high profile ones like in Orlando or las Vegas” are not.
It doesn’t help that alot of major hotel chains are infamous for hiring immigrants.
Canceling out debts or a large write down of a very large number of companies debts across a number of industries is more likely. Everything from hotels to stores to airlines to restaurants. They took out a loan to build something that they can never repay “or buy lots of planes”. If their debts were reduced/wiped out they might be able to survive through the upcoming recession/depression and do well, well into the future. New business construction would likely plummet though.
A bail out would probably be something like all interest/lease/rent/ground tax payments for everybody(not only hotels) will be shifted up a month or two.
And one hotel going bust is not bad but all hotels going bust are a problem as seen from the economy. Especially if it is not a shift in taste but something temporary like covid
Frank, please do not get sick ever. Be your own health advocate. Perhaps it’s time to reseach, inquire and apply Holistic, Alternative medical practices such as Acupunture, Qi Gong.
Drinking Green Tea, Purh Earth, Jasmine, other earthy Teas and Cooking braised tofu with fresh vegetable in Chinese vinegar then served with steamed plain rice are acquired rituals.
One is never too old to Become their Own Personal Private Health advocate.
Save thy monies for future funeral expenses, including local coroner’s fee. This has always been the reality, that no one want to share.
You will get something at emergency room, probably a twenty thousand dollar bill like I got for fainting and then lying on cot in there for twelve hours, 6 of which was trying to check out. If I get coronavirus, I will just stay home so there is some money left for my kids.
So the silence begins.
How does this all end?
I guess rate cuts don’t matter if the biz was already going broke.
All I hear is silence.
I guess we will pick a few of Uncle Warren’s airlines to survive as we re-regulate and rationalize to meet two years of smashed demand.
Now do cruise ships…airline demand is a lot more unavoidable long term…cruise ships…not so much…
Yeah, we now have one of those pariah cruise ships waiting offshore in San Francisco. This ship didn’t even go to Asia. Who would still go on a cruise after this?
One of my neighbors. He was outside a few days ago with his suitcase. When he said he was going on a cruise I complemented him on his bravery. I guess, because the State Department hasn’t put out any travel advisories on the Caribbean ( even though Jamaica and the Cayman Islands have refused to let cruise ships dock) Carnival et al are not allowing passengers to cancel or get refunds.
now now – let’s consider good thing
let me put on my greta
now can I send my crew ahead(via plane) as I need to set sail
if I could only do as I say not as I do
poor greta – when do you think you’ll visit china and/or india?
China and India are likely on their way down, so no need for Greta. I very strongly see no future for India, and China was already on a shaky foundation so they likely already peaked and will begin to shrink over time.
You know, I wonder how long they’ll keep the Grand Princess out at sea. I am curious how they are going to handle this one. Japan really messed up with Diamond Princess by keeping all of those people on board and turning it into a viral incubator, I’m curious if our government has learned any lessons from that event. What will happen I wonder when the Feds order the ship to be offloaded into a quarantine site in CA, is the local government going to complain and file lawsuits.
Given the succession of problem with Princess cruise liners, I wonder if they’ll just terminate the brand altogether. Because now I literally can’t associate that brand with anything else other than a plague ship.
But I suppose all things considered, that’s only two Princess ships out of a dozen with the Princess moniker, if we can get a few more of those, it’ll equate the word princess to virus.
Ha ha, princesses these days… they get no respect any more.
The problem with the Diamond Princess was they let passengers mingle and eat together in the restaurants AFTER they learned of the infected passenger.
Still, though there were over 700 people infected with many of them elderly, the Japanese did a good job once the ship docked in Yokohama. Those who tested positive were taken ashore and placed in hospital. Six have since died. A 1% mortality rate with most over 75 years old is as good as its going to get.
I think cruise ships, properly managed, are the ideal place to place infected people. There they can be medically monitored, prevented from coming ashore and keep the operators from going bankrupt.
75 year old that go on a cruise are the healthy ones so 1% is not good.
Cruise ships are way to tightly packed to be anything but an ideal place to spread the disease.Container homes placed 20 meter from each other are a better solution
Cruise ships should go to Bali. Nice place. Bali people are more worried about the loss of income than about Cov-19. Getting a fever is nothing compared to not having food on the table. Bali is now missing the tourists from China.
I loved the movie Out To Sea with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as escorts for the rich widows on a cruise ship!
5G on ships (and in Wuhan) reducing immunity for coronavirus to embed itself? Be safe, be with trees.
me. going to southern Caribbean in November ?. not playing into the fear Wolf .
When I checked earlier today, both airlines and cruise lines were about 50 pct (!) off from recent highs – I was using a new tracking tool but it sounds in the ballpark.
Ironically, it isn’t the most over valued sectors getting hit…it is airlines seeing 8 PEs going to 4, while thin margin maidens like Netflix and Amazon still keep their 80 to 90 PEs.
Granted that Corona directly impacts certain sectors and not others…but it is ironic that the goofiest valuations are the ones to survive
If you are locked up for two weeks would you get Netflix? I think a lot of people would.
Since I use to work for a few cruise lines (on the ships), I can provide some insight here. As one would expect, most of the cruise lines I know of are very levered. The bigger ships may have a crew of over 1000. The crew lives on the ship 7 days/week, and for US cruise lines, most of the crew are foreign nationals. Hence, telling them to go home if the ship does not sail is pretty difficult. Yes, they could live on the ship for a few weeks in a port, but this is enormously costly. Unlike aircraft that make their money primarily by fares, the ticket cost of a cruise liner is a only a part of the cruise lines revenue and profit. Ships make their profits by the many onboard activities: Alcohol, premium food, casino, bingo, shore excursions, premium ship activities, ship stores, etc. If a ship does not sail, no money, and even if a ship sails, it usually must be fully loaded to maximize revenue. That’s why cruises can be deeply discounted just before a sailing if they have not sold out all the berths. Cruise Lines do not want ships sailing half empty. The Corona virus could destroy the industry if the virus is active long enough – say 6 months plus.
Over 40% of Spirit’s revenue comes from ancillary services.
I predict they will be the first to shutdown.
Does that include fake ancillary services or real ones.
I consider standard luggage and seat-selection fake just as i consider paying for the bus to leave the harbor and paying for cleaning the room fake ancillaries with cruises.
I don’t know the American airline market but subsidies will flow to keep the flights between the state capitol and DC or other important cities flying (maybe temporarily stopped fo quarantine purposes) I don’t know if Spirit is more the Jamaica holiday or state capitol to DC airline. If it is the latter it will survive.
Allegiant Airlines is building a nearly .5 billion resort in Port Charlotte. FL. (near the Punta Gorda airport. This could get ugly for them and their investors.
When you finance your company growth with borrowed money instead of out of cash flow be sure you can always make the payments. If you cannot there are major downsides.
However, if you’ve been paid generous compensation and banked it who cares. It wasn’t your fault. It was probably because of exogenous events for which you can’t be held accountable. Lay off some employees. It’s the quickest way to trim costs.
When you finance your company growth with borrowed money instead of out of cash flow be sure you can always make the payments.
Did they ‘finance growth’ with borrowed money, or did they borrow money to buy back shares? That’s not ‘growth’. That’s ‘liquidation’. Could be worth looking at.
Second question. Can aircraft manufacturers be far behind? Boeing didn’t need this kind of problem, but then, neither did its competition.
I don’t see what this has to do with the big economic problem we are in. Some industries have cash flow that are disappearing because of corona.
I guess you mean insufficient cash flow or they wouldn’t be disappearing. Overextended or improperly prepared? This is not like being struck by the Giant Meteor, it was foreseeable. Another pandemic has been discussed for decades, low risk but terrible consequences. (Search for “risk/reward matrix.”) If you bet on a number the risk/reward is considerably different than betting on red or black.
It was not foreseeable.
It is like a Giant Meteor, will happen but chance is to small to worry and include in the planning so not foreseeable in the eyes of normal companies.
Therefore your “normal” companies go broke. QED They chose not to plan for this contingency. There is no adequate planning for a sufficiently large extraterrestrial rock. They chose not to plan for supply disruption. Incompetent management.
They also don’t plan for the Giant Meteor. Companies should plan that the government will take over the very deep in the tail risk. There are two reasons for that a) companies that do take action when it is still very deep in the tail (like in 2018) can’t compete with companies that don’t
b) The economy runs better if you assume the state will di it.
Giant meteor == Musk Mars plan
US airlines are the worst on the planet. I avoid them like the plague and I hope they all go bankrupt. Worthless scum. We should allow foreign flag carriers especially from Asia who know what customer service is to fly US domestic routes. No US carrier would last a week against foreign competition.
You get what you pay for.
US airlines are cheap. Just the way cheap Americans like them to be. So that they can perpetuate their smug belief that they actually have wealth superiority when in fact they just buy cheap crap and think it’s as good as the actual good stuff.
And I say this as an American.
Many foreign airlines get direct subsidies from their governments hence their reason for not sucking so badly as the US airlines. I guess it is time the foreign airlines and countries pay back some of the money sent to it by US taxpayers.
Foreign ownership of airlines in the United States is forbidden by law.
Can you imagine if Richard Branson or Stelios Haji-Ioannou were allowed to compete in the US?
Foreigners can own up to 25% of a US airline. Branson had Virgin America until it was bought by Alaska Air. A better passenger experience than most US airlines.
25% is proof that ownership is forbidden. US (and not only US) also force foreign airlines to limit their third country ownership.
Not if the Asians would also be staffed by Americans with American wages.
Stop flying Spirit
Alaska has been great for me….but I’m not a whiner like 3/4 of American sheep
You, sir, are spot on, they are the worst and gouge you at every turn. Jetblue just raised bag fees because they could and this slowdown and crash couldn’t happen to a better industry. Yes, socialism with the PEOPLE’s money will come into play and they will be bailed in or out. A real shame because there really is no such thing as capitalism and the free market. Only crony capitalism, predatory capitalism, and private profit with public money. I hope the airlines crash literally and figuratively.
For those who have not flown a foreign carrier out of SEA, do yourself a favor and check it out to see what real service is all about.
Airlines have a tough business.
Everybody’s (all companies!) rainy day fund is now a credit line instead of cash on the books. It’s one of the features of “financialization” of the economy.
That’s a big reason for the financial crises.
Gotta wring every dime out of every possible resource, including credit. Wall St. and the banks wouldn’t have it any other way.
So long as most people and most firms can make their minimum payments the house of cards stays up. Once the bad loans start piling up and the banks are affected they’ll be chasing those cards down the street in the wind.
But too many people treat bankruptcy like the assets get incinerated – they don’t, the shareholders do (including incumbent mgt shareholders).
So if you think incumbent mgt sucks, you probably should *root* for bankruptcy…the shareholders who allowed crap mgt get zeroed out and the actual assets pass to new owners…and if not broken up, the majority of employees will remain.
The ‘climate’ fanatics should be happy. Hundreds of millions of people cannot be whizzing through the skies at 550 mph or cruising the seas at 20 knots on 100,000 ton vessels if we are to reduce carbon emissions. Sacrifices have to be made and I hope they are ready to bear them.
Jerome Powell is asking me to make them. I was getting 2.45% on my CD’s. Not at lot but he seems to think I can live on 1% or even zero percent so some leveraged ‘investor’ doesn’t get wiped out. Why should I cry that an airline pilots or restaurant and hotel employees lose their jobs.
Powell is making it impossible for me travel or eat out so as the Russian say ‘when you live next to the graveyard you can’t weep for everyone!
Yes, yes I am very happy about that. But, I am not a climate “fanatic,” I pledge my allegiance to the natural world and anything that keeps our biosphere and all living creatures from being destroyed is a-okay by me.
The ‘climate’ fanatics should be happy. Hundreds of millions of people cannot be whizzing through the skies at 550 mph or cruising the seas at 20 knots on 100,000 ton vessels if we are to reduce carbon emissions.
Untrue. Jet engines can run on hydrogen. So can turboprops.
The Bentley runs on hydrogen. We heat with hydrogen, we light with hydrogen. Our utility bills are trivial. We do very well with hydrogen and function as a demonstration project, but very few people have the infrastructure for it and large-scale conversion would be a huge undertaking.
Airlines aren’t going for hydrogen because it’s too bulky and too expensive without scaling that would require enormous initial investment, even though costs would eventually outcompete. Biofuels are believed to be the best alternative at present and would be a major improvement. They’re working on it.
The Soviet Union tested a highly modified Tupolev Tu-154 in 1988 that had a single engine that ran on liquid hydrogen. After just five flights it was decided this type of fuel was a dead end: it required expensive refueling facilities and especially ground crews trained to handle the highly reactive compound.
The aircraft was then modified to run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), but practical problems continued to dodge the program, with the two most serious being the lack of adequate pumps in the USSR and the seemingly random boiling of LNG in flight. The problem was more or less solved by first evaporating the LNG and feeding the pumps with gas at -70°C.
The aircraft was mothballed in 1991 and at last check was still in storage at the Zhukovsky Airport.
In 2000 Gazprom and Tupolev revived the project to fully convert a Tu-154 to run LNG but to the best of my knowledge nothing came out of it: by 2000 the Tu-154 was already obsolescent and a new and highly expensive version was simply not feasible.
It’s one of the reasons why catastrophic climate change is inevitable, but it is far from the biggest reason.
Fossil fuels would have to be limited to uses where there is no feasible alternative, to a point where the negative effects can be sufficiently mitigated. That is politically impossible, and that is the biggest reason. Survival depends on adapting to change, and humanity refuses to adapt and will not adapt, preferring to savage the ecological foundations of its own existence.
Why, when the situation is so clear and alarming, does it remain so stubbornly intractable to change? It is because those who have power in the world want it to be this way.
I’m going to miss you guys.
There is another aspect of this that maybe Wolf has not recognised. Here in the UK, the last time I flew Flybe, I purchased my ticket from Air France . . . ? which also told me that the flights, return to and from Paris, cost me £50, while tax was also £50, making £100 in total. In which case there is another aspect of the downturn, loss of tax revenue to government. And, yes, that tells another story; if you tax flights to make them twice as expensive as necessary; do not be surprised if the airline fails. It was very thought provoking to discover that government, with no overhead costs to the tax, were earning as much as the airline carrying all the associated costs of providing the flights.
It was very thought provoking to discover that government, with no overhead costs to the tax, were earning as much as the airline carrying all the associated costs of providing the flights.
Governments do have ‘overhead costs’. Where do you think the infrastructure comes from? Who educates the employees and provides their health care? Who provides the regulations to keep it from becoming a mess of a free-for-all?
Maybe you think the government should pay for all that so customers and taxpayers don’t have to.
Not amused one bit!
Maybe you can actually understand that the whole point the person was trying to make was in relation to the airline business.
The government derives an equal amount of revenue from the companies’ operations while having zero costs in realtion to that business.
“Where do you think the infrastructure comes from?”
Well probably from income tax at the corporate and personal level, other excise taxes, inheritance taxes and probably 150 other taxes that governments levy as well.
The government derives an equal amount of revenue from the companies’ operations while having zero costs in realtion to that business.
Aw, do you feel these companies are treated unfairly for being made to pull their weight? What about whole populations who feel they’re being treated unfairly by intrusive price-rigging corporations?
There are no “corporate” taxes. All corporate taxes are paid indirectly by consumers aka customers. Corporate tax is solely to prevent multi-year corporate accumulation of cash and provide a less visible way of taxing consumers. Corporations are not people (Citizens United notwithstanding), they are a collection of documents.
All corporate taxes are paid indirectly by consumers aka customers.
All consumer and customer taxes are indirectly paid by their employers.
Taxes, like the laws, are for little people.
Corporations are not people
The Citizens United decision says corporations are first class citizens and actual people are second-class citizens. That’s the law.
Corporations are mechanisms for expanding the rights and privileges of the people who control them by reducing the ‘rights’ of persons who do not control corporations to insignficance.
Your ‘rights’ depend on enforcement by the courts, and if the courts don’t enforce them you don’t have any, like millions of people in the US who do not have a corporation.
Taxes? You don’t even pay V.A.T. on flights. That £50 is probably landing rights which should be in the ticket price.
“with no overhead costs to the tax, were earning as much as the airline carrying all the associated costs of providing the flights.”
…see rental car taxes in US…
Good up to date info on the state of the airlines, thank you.
I knew trucks could drive off a cliff.
Now airplanes diving off a cliff?
High yield spreads are blowing out. And the repo market showing strains. Wolf, can you do an article on this?
The 10-year Treasury yield has plunged to a record low, and the CCC-yield (deep junk) has remained at the low end of its recent range and remains historically low (12.4%). So the CCC-spread has widened a little bit (not “blown out”). The CCC-spread is now 11.6 pts. It was over 20 pts in February 2016 and over 40 pts during the Financial Crisis.
And this CCC-yield is heavily impacted by shale oil and gas bonds, which have gotten crushed, same as in Feb 2016.
Lots of corporate bonds trade at record-low yields! The BBB-yield (junk bonds) has plunged to a record low of 2.72%!!!
Outside of energy, credit is still super-easy – easier than ever. There is nothing to see here at the moment.
And the repo market is not showing strains, it’s showing that there is a lot of demand for the Fed’s 1.1% money, cheapest in town. But today, the $100-billion overnight repo was already undersubscribed again, even at 1.1%. The 2-week repo, which is now limited to just $20 billion, was oversubscribed, but who wouldn’t want to borrow for 2 weeks at 1.1%?
We don’t have a credit issue at the moment (this might come later). We have an equity issue.
Here is the BBB-junk bond yield, now at a record low of 2.72% — it has dropped but just not as violently as the 10-year yield. So the spread ticked up a little to a still historically low 1.67%:
10-year Treasuries at 0.86%, lower than during great financial crisis. No bueno.
One big problem with ratings agencies (who I think do try hard…but also have enduring blind spots) is that they tend to underweight the Cascade effects of defaults (one default triggering a chain of subsequent defaults along a sequence of creditors) and also underweight just how quickly and completely the rollover loan window can slam shut.
The default probabilities by initial rating can also be misleading…by the time a Corp has descended from A to BB…they probably stop paying for ratings before they hit CCC…so I think there is potentially a survivorship bias in the lifetime default probabilities that the rating agencies put out.
And shorter term probabilities are pretty useless, anybody can cover 3 to 4 yrs of interest pmts from the proceeds of the loan alone…it is when the loan comes due and a rollover lender has to be cajoled…that is when it comes down to brass tacks…that is why I ask about detailed debt maturity calendars periodically.
I know one off tools exist…but it would be nice to find an online source that lists *all specific Corp debt maturities by month* – so that the public could easily see which corps might hit the wall and when.
Many thanks for the scorecard on the airlines as well as your embedded informative commentary on credit spreads.
The one sector that refuses to panic is IG corporate debt ETF’s. LQD closed at a new ATH today. The money has to go somewhere and right now IG bonds are somehow considered a ‘safe haven’. Whistling past the graveyard.
PS – Might want to check out the study about 19 and susceptibility rates. Asians unfortunately are most susceptible due to high concentration of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in the lungs. Paper was published by Chinese researchers this week.
This makes me wonder when the oracle of Omaha will double down and buy more airline stocks. LUV is in need of some luving right now, and is kinda cheap.
I thought you were going to wonder how much Uncle Buffy’s bailout would be this time. Re Unsurance would have blown to bits in the GFC with all the derivatives they wrote without any reserves or w/o adequate reserves. The best part was later when Charlie told Joe6Pack to suck it up. I only fly US Airlines as a last resort.
And as to a previous post regarding the 100% tax on a 50 euro ticket. The tax rate will be raised to 100 euro to compensate for the lost volume of tix sold.
Landing rights are no tax. Airports eed to be paid.. And airline travel are massively undertaxed. No V.A.T. or kerosene tax
Air passenger duty. Still lower than VAT in most cases. And only outbound.
I’m seeing PEs of 4 among airlines during an era when people are nonplussed by tech PEs of 90+…
PE looks back. Expected PE for this year is more -1/4
I saw he bought into Kroger around the time the virus found its way into mainstream media. Maybe he is stocking the extra toilet paper at night.
It’s not just the airline business that is suffering. It is the whole travel industry. The pain will be felt globally and quickly. We have traveled internationally twice a year to far off culturally different countries with small group travel companies. The agency is 40 years old. Hopefully they will survive.
My daughter works for a global sailboat charter company based in the UK. They were already strained from two cat 5 hurricanes. It’s like.. “Why can’t we get a break.”
On a different but very expensive note. Weddings.. Closed spaces with large gatherings of people. Lots of product Wedding, dresses and tuxes made in China and Hong Kong.
Too me this looks like a Black Swan event.
On another note..
Travel in the modern age has become very casual including buying and selling property in various countries while you are relaxing. The big travel issue is when will the Chinese tourist be allowed into other countries including the U.S.?
Futures are down slightly tonight
Italian and Japanese are the bigger question. Bigger government F* ups
Hmmm, lowering fares might help fill seats as a short-term measure.
How big a discount will make people risk their lives?
Is that a rhetorical questions?
I, a man who’s only gone short once before in his life, have had a significant short position of put options in UAL for over a month.
I’m pretty happy.
In the America I knew the Boeing engineers would be busy with specifications and details on high flow /high efficiency intergral Hepa/ UV filtration systems for air carriers.Top management would be up their nose saying “we gotta have it now”. New process and manufacturing would flow from”these activities. Some of the young hot shot engineers would leave the company and spring a patentable novel process. Boeing would sue for violating non compete and nda conditions. After a short legal battle Boeing would buy them out .They all would be millionaires and consultants. Everyone goes home at night and yak about the difference their enterprise is making to our flying safety. They would hit drams of 25yr old Single Malt and yak even more.Top management of the Air Lines would bob their nobel heads in unison and talk about synergy and scale-ability and launch a promotion to show the public, WE ARE CAPTAINS of our industry and your safety is paramount. In the America of today all that they can deliver is smaller seats and bad filthy air and bankruptcy.
In the America of today all that they can deliver is smaller seats and bad filthy air and bankruptcy.
Wall St. wants every corporation to maximise profits by reducing costs, which is why you get smaller seats, bad filthy air, lame customer service, dubious maintenance and safety, and an all-around lousy travel experience.
Also brick ‘n mortar retail meltdowns. Wall St. would rather pay for automated distribution centers than for store buildings and store clerks.
The good news is that Wall St. doesn’t coerce carriers outside the US to the same degree.
I happen to be very partial to trains. It could be a very elegant way to travel back in the day.
UV sterilizer have been used on aircraft since the 1960’s.
Yeah, and it didn’t work. ;-)
Things really changed with the Airbus A300-600, introduced in 1984, which featured hospital-grade filtration designed and manufactured by Pall of New York.
Pall has since introduced the A-CAF (Advanced Cabin Air Filter) which is standard equipment in both Airbus and Boeing nowadays.
Vokes used to make that kind of filters as well but has dropped out since they have been taken over by Mann+Hummel.
Which incidentally is the largest supplier of cabin air filter for cruise ships. ;-)
And the Fed will cut rates to solve all this, right? LOL. If nothing else, COVID-19 will demonstrate the arrogant futility of central banking/planning. A rate cut isn’t going to make people associate and transact with one another when they really don’t want to.
I suppose I may stay at home and look at photos from tours of years gone by. Less likely to catch a flu if I stay at home.
You may be able to stream Rudy Maxa and Rick Steves, or check out videos from the library. Unfortunately, several very interesting travel shows are no longer available because they were only intended to promote HDTV.
When asked why he didn’t travel, Thoreau reportedly replied that “I have traveled a good deal. In Concord.” Of course, if you were already there you wouldn’t need to travel.
Google maps provides all the travel discovery experience and pictures without cost, risk, noise, smell, dirt. Just pure unadulterated learning from ancient historic sites. Quickens the human journey. Enjoy. Until the satellites go down that is.
Without the cost, risk, noise, smell, and dirt, it’s not a travel experience. Live your life vacariously and you won’t have one.
Central Banking “End Game ” preview maybe….
Recent bung went straight to insurers. Makes insurers look good for helping the little people. Step back, the money insurers are paying out was recently created and given to them by central banks. Makes it less gallant, less fair and looks pretty ugly. Stinky broken system.
Dal bought back 7.8 b of stock during the last 4 years. And taxpayers are going to bail them out.
In that case, you can certainly expect an article here, with a headline that goes something like this:
“After Blowing, Incinerating & Wasting $X billions on Share Buybacks, and Paying $X billion in Dividends, Delta Asks Taxpayers to Bail Out its Investors”
Good way to weasel unearned rentier profits out of the government. Of course, then they’ll turn around and blame their failure on government regulations and taxes. This despite their government-protected position and the fact that they only get taxed on what they actually earn, if anything.
The coronavirus covers a multitude of sins, not to mention management failures, and that can be exploited.
The fear associated with the virus is just accelerating the future that was already destined. A future where people rarely leave their homes because everything can accessed via the internet. Why travel when you can video conference or FaceTime your family? Sports stadiums will be empty because the entertainment quality is better on TV and you’re safer at home. Have EVERYTHING delivered to your house including meals from the best restaurants around. Want to see great works of art or architecture from another country? Experience it through VR. Dating is too much trouble? Sex bots and free porn are just a click away. Sure, those who are old enough to have actually experienced ‘real life’ will opine for the good old days and tell everybody about how it used to be. The young people who know no other reality will just say “ok boomer” and get back to their phones.
Ready player one.
All too true, Beck Matthews. A person who streamlines their life too much and makes their life too ‘conveninent’ won’t have one. Live, to the point of tears.
“There is a futility that is done on the earth: There are righteous men who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked men who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile. So I commended the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be merry.” – Ecclesiastes 8:15
Flew from St Thomas USVI to Charlotte on Wed night on AA, large jet, It was half empty. Got the entire row of 3 seats to myself as did many others.
US 10 at 0.834%.
American airlines will not let me cancel my tickets to fly to SJC mid-march. Now before you guys call me paranoid and other mean names, here’s my line of thinking. The trip is a spring break vacation to go visit family in SJC and do some day trips around the bay area, something we dont have to do. Why tempt fate? Now AA wants to keep our money, I am sorely tempted to go ahead and fly. If I catch the damn thing, would that be grounds for a lawsuit? I have already contacted AA customer relations and filed a complaint at the DOT website.
You flying is acceptance of the risk and not knowing what state you are in for legal consideration, you would more than likely not prevail in a court of law. Not legal advice, but local counsel can provide you with a consultation on the matter.
i am curious, did they offer trip insurance during the booking process? if so they may say you could have bought insuranc?
Financial Crisis? As usual, Wall Street will buy it all up for pennies on the dollar using money borrowed (or “forced” upon them) from government.
How convenient, rinse and repeat.
Spirit Airlines is the WORST airline I have ever flown. I have flown hundreds of times over the years and I would not fly them again even if the flight was free.
I flew on Spirit Airlines. Once.
funny. Me too.
Once was one time too many.
Is it the American version of Ryanair
1) A new recreational service sector : defective cruise ships. A cost centers that must be used.
2) During the American revolution GB dumped US and French
prisoners of war on a ship near Johnson Is Oh. Few survived. A twelve year boy escaped.
3) Another American prisoners of war ship was moored near Staten Island.
4) The death rate was over 90%, The British didn’t care. The French prisoners who were dumped were to the bottom of the ship didn’t see the day light again.
5) The American prisoners were treated like traded black slaves on the to the new world.
Just a couple of quick things about FlyBe.
In February 2019 it was taken over by the Connect Airways Consortium, composed of Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Aviation, under what one would call unclear conditions: there was never a recovery plan, and the promise to rebrand FlyBe as Virgin Atlantic sounded incredibly vague and empty.
After a while it became apparent the only reason Connect had taken over FlyBe was to feast on tax pounds: besides a deferral of FlyBe’s large debts with the Exchequer (chiefly Passenger Duty tax), Connect managed to extort a promise of £100 million from Her Majesty’s Government in direct subsidies. Very much like the €380 million bailout of Condor (more on which in the future), this bailout has been impopular to say the least, attracting criticism from all quarters: environmentalists, hardcore conservatives and other airlines, chiefly British Airways and EasyJet.
That criticism apparently trickled up HM Government and about a month ago the bailout was effectively dead in the water as “politically toxic”.
Connect paid just 1p/share for FlyBe, or about £2.2 million: it was no big deal for Virgin Atlantic, and the potential to have the airline restructured using public funds was worth the risk.
May be time to consider the future of airline travel, and travel period. I can quote Emerson and McLuhan, let’s have a video conference and discuss it?
I’m starting to get a little suspicious about the panicked, breathless, hourly updates, on this new flu virus when statistically, it pales compared to the season to date, USA annual flu figures which are in line historically with years past. Call me suspicious.
2019-2020 US flu season thru 3/5/20:
CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least:
32 million flu illnesses,
310,000 hospitalizations and,
18,000 deaths from flu.
US Covid cases as of 3/5/20
US Cases 207
US Deaths 12
Yeah but look at the ratio if c19 becomes as widespread as flu you’re looking at hundredss of thousands of deaths per year
The mortality rates are varying greatly based on a number of factors, including geographic location.
The vast majority of infections and deaths have come from a single region in a single country, which may greatly distort statistics.
Fair point. If they are anything like 12:207 …
Just read that European slot rules dictate that even if flights are empty, they must keep flying into the airports in question in order to keep their slot.
You have to love the EU…. on the one hand, they talk about saving the environment, on the other hand, they are happy to force airliners to pour tons of CO2 into the atmosphere to fly nearly empty jets just so they can collect their landing fees.
When you come right down to it, the people running the EU are nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites.