US Air Passenger Traffic over Memorial Day Weekend Down 87%, Amid Signs of Slow Recovery

Airlines don’t expect a quick recovery back to “normal” either. Based on their decisions about aircraft in their fleets, they expect this to drag out for years.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

This was the first big travel weekend of the Pandemic Era – meaning a holiday weekend when normally Americans like to go somewhere. So let’s see how it went for airlines.

The worst for the economy may be over, meaning that the economy, which is in terrible shape, may not get worse from here on forward, and that activity is ticking up, though the economic data that lag by weeks and months, such as unemployment rates, consumer spending, or GDP, are certainly going to get a lot worse because they’re still trying to catch up with just how bad it already is.

In the immediate near-real-time data, such as passenger air traffic, measured by the TSA’s daily checkpoint screenings at airports around the US, we can see that the economy is getting better – in micro-steps.

These TSA screenings show: One, how bad it has gotten for the travel industry; two, that activity is picking up only a tiny bit when looking at the whole scene; three, that activity remains so deep in the tank that the tiny uptick, when looked at without magnifying glass, can barely be seen; and four, that this recovery is going to be slow and take a long time.

The TSA reported this morning that on Monday, Memorial Day, checkpoint screenings at US airports reached 340,769. On Friday, the total screenings had reached 348,673, the highest since lockdowns started, and more than triple the 95,000-range in mid-April. When something shoots up 265% in six weeks, as the TSA checkpoint screenings have done, that’s encouraging.

However, this weekend’s screenings remained minuscule and abysmally low. Last year on Friday, TSA screenings reached 2,792,670, the highest in the March-May period. And Monday last year, the screenings reached 2,512,237. Compare those figures (black line) to this year’s screenings (red line), and note the seasonal increase in both:

On Friday, TSA screenings were down 87.5% from Friday a year ago. On Memorial Day this year, screenings were down 86.4% from Monday a year ago. You can see the improvement: The number of screenings at the low point in April were down about 95% from a year ago:

So there is an increase in passenger travel from the near-zero levels of early April – hence the “recovery” – but travel is still minuscule compared to a year ago.

And US airlines are not expecting an instant V-shaped recovery either. In this environment, airlines reacted the only way they could: They engaged in drastic short-term culling of capacity, and they’re making big long-term adjustments to their fleets to deal with this situation over the long term.

All airlines cut capacity by removing flights from their schedule and by parking planes. United cut its capacity by 90% in April and has since been lambasted publicly for packing people into full planes, ignoring any notion of social distancing. I analyzed this phenomenon in a comment at the time:

“The idea is to pack them sardines into them cans, and if you don’t have enough of them sardines for them cans, you still pack them into them cans, but use fewer of them cans.”

And that’s what airlines are doing. In April, the IATA reported that “Almost 10,500 aircraft, representing 40% of the global fleet, have been grounded already and that number is only likely to increase.” These are the airlines’ instant and short-term reactions to the crisis.

But airlines have also been making long-term decisions: Retiring planes in large numbers much earlier than anticipated.

Delta, for example, said that as of mid-May, it has “parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft to adjust capacity to match reduced customer demand.” And it announced that it would retire all its 18 Boeing 777 by the end of this year. These planes entered the fleet between 1999 and 2008. “The retirement will accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet, while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft,” it said.

In April, Delta had announced that it would accelerate the retirement of its MD-88 and MD-90 (“Why are they still in the fleet,” says me, Delta Frequent Flyer, every time I get on this museum piece). Final flights will be on June 2.

American Airlines announced that it would retire its fleet of Boeing 767, Boeing 757, Airbus A330-300, Embraer 190, Embraer 140, and Bombardier CRJ200. Since these retirements were “earlier than previously planned as a result of the decline in demand for travel due to COVID-19,” American Airlines said, they triggered write-downs of over $1 billion.

Airline after airline is using the collapse in demand to sort through its fleet and to get rid of the least efficient and costliest planes to operate. These moves – as American Airlines has shown – are costly in the short term because equipment with a book value is being written off, triggering a hit to earnings. Retiring these planes earlier than previously planned can also trigger labor contract expenses.

Decisions about what aircraft should be in the fleet, and what aircraft should exit the fleet, are long-term decisions. And they indicate clearer than anything else that airlines don’t expect a quick recovery back to “normal,” that they expect this to drag out for years. After 9-11, it took nearly four years for operating revenues of US airlines to get back to pre-9-11 levels. After the Financial Crisis, it took nearly three years. And for the airlines, and for potential passengers, this crisis is far bigger than the prior two crises.

Holy cow, Los Angeles. The California economy is gradually opening up. But the exodus has started hard and heavy. And the influx has stopped. Read…  Catastrophic Plunge in Jobs & Labor Force in Los Angeles, San Francisco/Silicon Valley Smacks into Housing Bubbles

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  108 comments for “US Air Passenger Traffic over Memorial Day Weekend Down 87%, Amid Signs of Slow Recovery

  1. MiTurn says:

    I can’t imagine flying anywhere, except for necessity. People will be afraid to return to flying, especially as we’re being ‘trained’ in ‘social distancing.’ Obviously difficult on an airliner .

    • 2banana says:

      If the pictures from folks on the beach and in bars, over the holiday weekend, are an indicator…

      A quickly passing fad.

      “as we’re being ‘trained’ in ‘social distancing.”

      • Phoenix_Ikki says:

        Yup, Murica is bored of CV19 already…that virus is so March 2020. Drove by Huntington Beach on Monday, social distancing is about as much of a relic there as bell bottom jeans. Bars are open with plenty of people inside with no masks on, nothing is being taken seriously.

        Who knows, maybe American exceptionalism and a blend of Homer Simpson luck will see us not having to deal with spike in cases from walking back from social distancing and 2nd wave will never hit us.

        • 2banana says:

          Well, it is going to be extremely interesting to see the data in three generations of the virus (about two weeks from now).

          The elderly and those with underlying health issues are still self isolating.

          The “healthy” are out and about.

          It will be a great comparison to the “lock down everyone and force nursing homes to accept positive patients” that was the model in so many states.

        • Tim says:

          People are resentful of the changes in their lives.

          Attention spans are only so long.

          Won’t be long before the old demonisation tropes come bck to the fore if things do not turn out as people wish they would.

          As we can see from latin america and other places, warm weather does not kill this coronavirus…..

        • Willy Winky says:

          For every person in those bars … there are 50 who are afraid of their own shadows.

          Particularly old people and/or people who are obese… diabetic… riddled with heart disease or other chronic illnesses… (know any people like that????)

          They are the ones (mostly) who die from viruses like Covid…

          And they are very often the ones who have most of the money to spend.

          There are also plenty of young affluent people who have a massive fear of dying because they are young and affluent and need to live longer to enjoy their youth and affluence and all round wonderfulness.

          I suspect a lot of the people at the bars are spending their wage subsidies or their student loans or the last of their savings thinking ‘there is no future so may as well have some fun’

          The global economy is downsizing on a massive scale.

          But the global workforce and population is not.

          Good luck finding a job when graduating. There will be so many highly qualified, motivated people for every job opening that you might as well take the student loan and buy lottery tickets.

          And if you get laid off from your job, you best head to the welfare office immediately because the odds of finding another one are slim and none.

          Then get ready to fight for a spot to sleep under a bridge.

    • timbers says:

      There is a YouTube so another site I follow (NC) showing how China had opened it’s schools. Children with helmet masks, being disinfected ad they enter school, cafateria and classroom setup. Very impressive. The tagline notes “unintentional show of American incompetence.” So true.

      • Anthony A. says:

        The Chinese should be helping us rather than setting us up with the CCP19 virus, then mocking us. After all, we are here to buy the junk they manufacture.

      • Willy Winky says:

        Hong Kong has 8M people stacked on top of one another. They have not had a serious lockdown. Schools closed – shops and businesses have not.

        1066 infections
        4 deaths

        (and the people HATE the govt so they are not covering anything up)

        Everyone in HK wears face coverings.

        New Zealand has 4.5M people spread over two large islands. The government imposed the most severe lockdown in the world (destroying the economy in the process)

        1154 infections
        21 deaths

        Almost nobody wears a face covering in NZ.

        Don’t you think that sending children to school in space suits…. is a bit … over the top?

        Don’t you think that if the world followed the HK lead (and btw the CDC site recommends wearing cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid – google it)…

        … we would not be looking at the global economy’s entrails torn out and dragging across the ground behind it as it stumbles along to find a spot under a tree to die?

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Agree with the concepts WW, but the fact WAS nobody really understood exactly how this virus was going to ”act out” based on the clearly faulty data from CCP, as well as the extreme resulting and seen clearly out of control in Italy and NY.
          Those data, not added to, but rather multiplied, possibly multiplied exponentially, by various confusions, including unbelievable lack of preparedness and especially including by the lack of leadership on all sides and by all political puppets, and then multiplied again by the additional time needed for the masters of those puppets to decide what they wanted and communicate their orders to the puppets, and here we are.
          While hindsight may be 2020 in theory at least in some circumstances, even then it usually is not, depending on how much brainwashing is involved before and after any event such as this one.
          Maybe time and enough for some serious consideration of the 21st Century Bill of Rights with Constitutional Amendments to put a stop to the cronyism among all three branches of our guv mint, said branches intended to provide check and balances, and now clearly providing multipliers to the ongoing criminal corruptions degrading our money and our mutual well being.

    • Paulo says:

      My son, who used to commute for work on two week shifts, has now rented out his house and relocated closer to work until such time the airlines are able to offer a workable flight schedule, or there is a vaccine. Meanwhile, he takes his extra 2k per month savings for future considerations.

      As for winter flight destination vacations, I would be surprised if they returned to even 50% of recent levels. People are learning some extra savings might be a good life plan, and when restrictions are finally lifted folks will take real delight in what was taken for granted; a meal out, movie night, open local beaches, etc.

      It’s going to take a long long time for us prarrie dogs to leave their burrows and jump on a plane. Who wants to stay in a strange hotel room, anyway? I can see upticks in RV travel before flying comes back.

      • JC says:

        RV bookings are up 650%

        Invest in manufacturers? I’m thinking new RV’s are going to go for those hi-top van based motors? Class B homes. Who makes those? Is there an ETF for that, just class B?

        • Paulo says:

          I just read an article on the upsurge in RV travel…for rich folks. The article offered a luxury RV and driver for 50K per week. Somehow I don’t think they are headed for Deliverance counties. There are vast luxury resorts being established in the west with low densities, (we used to call them fly camps or tent bottoms). Install carpet, flush toilets, hire a chef, and call it glamping. Kind of like running out of food, learn to eat garden molluscs, and call it escargot. :-)

        • Just Some Random Guy says:


          I like to go camping a few times a year. It’s next to impossible to find anything these days. Maybe during the week at less popular places. But weekend reservations? Fughetabouit. And I’m not talking $50K a week places. I’m talking state parks or forest service stuff, the $20-30 a night campsites. All booked.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Ya gotta stop making me laugh so hard that I just almost choked on my current liquidity position!!!
          All seriousness aside, this post really one of your best factual comments along with enough subtle humour as above…
          Yes, RV ”glamping” will or may be the next ”premium” service for the rich folks, while We the PEEDONs will continue to drag our sorry selves across and up and down the country(s) doing our best to try to stay away from whatever location is the current ”hot spot” for this virus and the ones so similar to follow as soon as certain parties learn exactly how to do them in a way that will not endanger their own people as this one clearly has done.
          As has been pointed out on here by Wolf, WS, and others, although this particular virus leading to pandemic MAY have been generated accidentally in the first place, the lack of reliable information in the first place that was very likely intentionally has done great harm to the global reputation of the CCP;
          at this point, WE the PEEDONs of the entire world can only hope and pray that all political entities everywhere become reliable and responsible reporters of the best information available in all locations.

        • Tim says:

          Unless the locals get out their pitchforks for the rich travellers…

          Abuse already starting in the UK for second home owners whom the locals resent.

          Only going to get worse.

          So where are these RV buyers thinking they’ll get a warm reception?

    • Tim SE says:

      In passing, why did physical separation become “social” distancing?

      It’s hardly that, in an age of net, phones etc.

    • raxadian says:

      And you risk being quarantined as soon as you leave the plane.

    • Harrold says:

      I think the travel bans will have a long term effect.

      Who is going to enjoy a 2 week vacation wondering if they will be able to fly home?

      • Tim says:

        Whose going to take their family on a skiing trip to Courchevel to be cooped up on buses to small apartments for a week as their young kids share the bugs on the training slope and the bars will only let limited numbers in…?

    • Wahoo says:

      If the airlines want my business, they will lobby to get rid of the TSA.
      The skin cancer backscatter X-Rays, the rude, low class riff-raff with badges that belong cleaning pots or toilets in the back of restaurants, the ridiculous waits, all of it, makes just getting on the plane miserable–and to what end? How many terrorist attacks have they prevented? Guns, knives, grenades have made it onto planed in carry on luggage in spite of the billions spent on the TSA boondoggle, which is just another feeding opportunity for government infecting parasites like Chertoff Associates etc.

  2. 2banana says:

    737 MAX…what market was left for it (fuel efficiency) once it is “fixed” is now gone too.

    I have been looking for some cheap tickets to Europe this fall. Prices have not gone down or, maybe, just a tiny bit to the cities I am looking.

    So much for grabbing market share.

    • Drater says:

      Just bought a ticket for $482 to Poland (direct flights on 787s LAX-Warsaw) in September for a 7 week vacation – a few months ago the fares were $800. If the flights are cancelled, LOT airlines will issue a voucher that can be redeemed within 2 years.

      • Willy Winky says:

        Thanks for that info. I won’t be buying any airline tickets if those conditions apply (those two week quarantines at both ends of the trip really don’t work so well for me either)

        Odds are if the airline is cancelling flights it may not be around in two years….(maybe that’s why the tickets are cheap)

        If you are in the high risk group for Covid hospitalization (obese… chronic illness(es) … old) you need to check your travel insurance policy.

        I have top of the line private medical/travel insurance and got a notice in March that Covid hospitalizations/treatments are not covered.

        So I will assume that’s SOP for all travel insurance policies.

  3. Tom Stone says:

    Business, and not just Airlines, seems to be betting on a quick return to “Normal”.
    It’s a risky bet, if this plague echoes what happened in 1918-1919 next spring it will be “Katy bar the door”.
    Even without that happening I think the ramifications of this pandemic will take years to play out.
    Sonoma County now has the worst unemployment in 80 years and that is going to leave a mark.
    Nationwide, what are we going to do about the explosion of the homeless population?
    40 Million unemployed, mostly low paid service workers with no savings.
    Does ANYONE think that the Feeral Government has the capability of dealing with that effectively, whether it’s Trump or Jill Biden’s astrologer in charge?

    • Paulo says:


      re: “Does ANYONE think that the Feeral Government has the capability of dealing with that effectively, whether it’s Trump or Jill Biden’s astrologer in charge?

      It is a rich country and well able to afford to feed and clothe citizens for another year….if there is the will to do so. But from my outside vantage point the cult of the Individual and the myth of ‘making it’ pits everyone against each other; states against states, business against other businesses, even hospitals are in competition with each other. There will be a surge in Covid cases in the near future and many citizens will exercise their rights as individuals to get sick, infect others, and even die. How that makes economic sense is beyond me? When people go on tv and state, “Jesus is my vaccine”, I don’t see much to hope for, honestly.

    • Stuart says:

      The Federal Government is the only entity capable of dealing with this catastrophe. Your point is well taken with regard to Trump’s or Jill Biden’s desire to deal with it. Trump is incapable of compassion and Biden is unwilling to contradict her Corporate paymasters. A massive Federal jobs program paid for with redirecting “ Defense “ expenditures along with higher taxes on the Ruling Class are the only solution. It will take massive Civil disobedience and labor unrest to prod the government into action along these lines. If that fails, we can always eat cake, shoot up Lysol and drink bleach.

      • p coyle says:

        i believe cake is not on the table at this point. however, you should be satisfied with your 2 expensive refrigerators full of fancy ice cream. that ought to be sufficient to tide you over til football season!

    • Willy Winky says:

      Well.. WW2 seems to help end the Great Depression ….

      Oh right … everyone has nukes now …. and with this pesky global supply chain blowing things up won’t help…

      The Central Banks could unleash trillions of stimulus to try to jumpstat the global economy … what’s that… 9 trillion so far??? …. maybe go for 50 trillion? Or 100 trillion?

      What comes after trillion?

  4. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    How do you think this will affect service at smaller regional airports like Bend Oregon that only recent got service by anything but puddle jumpers.

    • Paulo says:

      Done, would be my opinion.

      When the virus hit some small local Canadian carriers just shut down, entirely. The big two airlines are down over 90%. They aren’t building routes into new and untried markets. If it comes back it will be by ‘puddle jumpers’ (as you phrased it), or by Partners, as the airlines call it. Plus, they’ll need deep pockets to run their service at loss until the loads rebuild, and I doubt there will be money for that.

      Airlines are marginal in good times.

      • California Bob says:

        What about Buffalo Air? I like the TV show ‘Ice Pilots;’ my guess is they will be flying as much or more since they serve remote areas, including the indigenous tribes, who have no other source for necessary goods.

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          Great Show!
          They are still in business. Flying cargo with the legendary DC3.

        • nick kelly says:

          The sight of a DC 3 landing on skies was one to remember.

          The other was that poor Turkish pilot training on the Canadair water bomber (sold and delivered by Buffalo) who tried to land with the wheels up. He had learned on fixed gear. Luckily he sort of got away with it. Because of boat- shaped fuselage and highly placed engines he left a trail of sparks for 30 yards and then pulled up. Plane then landed OK. The Canadians run up and look inside where they can see runway through tear. Fixable. Often the episodes pick up where last one left off, but this was NEVER referred to again. Possibly legal questions.

        • Dan Romig says:

          The Smithsonian channel has ‘Planes That Changed the World: DC-3’

          It will air this Saturday, May 30 @ 3:00 am (check the time zone).

    • 2banana says:

      Already happening around here.

      The airlines now expect you to drive to the major hubs to fill those flights. After all, a few hour drive plus parking is your expense, not their expense.

      You will be lucky to have a puddle jumper.

      • Tom15 says:

        I usually have to drive an hour …not a big deal. Will do Vegas in November and rental car to get out for hiking. When we have the equipment stored away for winter, will do florida.

        House we rent went from only us keeping our booking….to being fully booked by the end of memorial weekend.

    • MiTurn says:

      I agree with Paulo — they’re probably toast. As I understand it, a regional airport like in Bend (Redmond) serves monied interests, not regular folks. Jet commuters who were trying to live the ‘small town’ lifestyle with their McMansions, while still having to maintain job connections in California.

      I used to live in Bend, when it was around 25k in population. Changed, huh?

      • Seneca's cliff says:

        I agree , that jet air service to places like Bend ( and maybe even Eugene) will disappear. I remember Bend when it was a Brooks Scanlon lumber town and had a population of 17,000. When flights and planes in service are cut back this drastically the airlines have no choice but to pull air service from small markets and force people to drive to regional hubs like back in the 1970’s. This will come as a big surprise to those who bought woodsy mcmansions in Deschutes county and planned to commute weekly to the mothership in the Bay Area. I knew someone who tried to commute from a house in Bend to a job in Salem on a weekly basis ( home for the weekend) and had to give it up after crashing on black ice in the pass one too many times in one winter.

    • BuySome says:

      Perhaps a Hertz rental to drive down to Eugene? Then again, probably not.

    • w.c.l. says:

      Seneca, be thankful you have anything at all. I used to fly into RDM to go see my father in Sisters and the connecting flight from PDX or SeaTac was no big deal. Come out here where our one horse regional airport is just hanging on and if it’s lost we have to go a hundred plus miles for any air service.

      • Seneca's cliff says:

        Don’t worry, I don’t live in Bend. Nice weather but too filled with transplants and unsavory types for a native Oregonian like me.

  5. JC says:

    “The idea is to pack them sardines into them cans, and if you don’t have enough of them sardines for them cans, you still pack them into them cans, but use fewer of them cans.”

    For some people, I don’t know how many that business model is DOA until there is no virus.

    Covid-19 is so much worse than any super flu. It destroys the cells that line your vascular system. There is no way flying its that important, to me anyway. And yes I’m a traveler.

  6. WES says:

    Many large companies now have a no travel ban in place for all of their employees.

    That means only the senior people can fly.

    In the corporate jet of course, because no travel approval is required.

  7. Beardawg says:

    I needed to air travel in mid-March and mid-May (PHX to the Midwest), at the height of this pandemic. I self-quarantine as much as humanly possible for 2 weeks when I return from these trips and all has been good. Just data for anyone who is at risk or concerned about flying.

  8. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Yeah I am done flying in the US till there’s a vaccine.

    Sad, because I was thinking of flying to New York in the fall. It’s ironic that flying to Taiwan is probably safer than flying to anywhere in the States just because some people would refuse to wear a mask.

  9. Maybe some old timers can help me out. How is this virus different than Y2K?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Nobody got sick or died from Y2K.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Well, I “almost” died from Y2K. Panic stricken testing of all systems in air-gapped networks for almost two weeks 24×7. Too much pizza and cola and Chinese took out. Too little sleep and a couple of nights on the network room floor. ;-)

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          I once worked 24 hours to meet a deadline. (small company)
          That was when I was 29. At 57 my eyes start to get blurry after 8 hours.

      • Experts were afraid airplanes would fall out of the sky. DOD was not sure it could maintain it’s systems. Banks were going to close. Most bad outcomes were averted while the stock market crashed anyway. [and again in 2008, with a lower low]. The Fed dropped rates in 98′, (partly out of fear?). Markets were ATH, and the yield curve refused to steepen. The dollar soared. Tech companies rushed out solutions? They even called it the Millennium Bug?

    • lenert says:

      Y2k was also the last peak in Private Non-residential Fixed Investment as a percent of GDP. Businesses spent and a lot of people got jobs.

    • nick kelly says:

      You’d have to be super old to remember 2000.
      Learn by doing. Get it (easy). Come back and tell us how it’s different.


      • Phoenix_Ikki says:

        Good Ol 2000, ancient time when the market had somewhat of a resemblance to still allow for price discovery to happen unlike the time now when big daddy FED won’t simply dare to ever let a silly thing like that to ever happen again with their QE infinity bazooka

      • nick kelly says:

        Sorry. My reply was unnecessarily snotty. I invite all to be nice, especially to me. I’ll use the ‘cancel reply’ more. Vent, then cancel. Maybe the Covid is getting to me.

    • Tony22 says:

      There was plenty of toilet paper and everything else in 1999. Y2K was an anticipation of disaster happening at a fixed point.
      Covid is a reaction to quickly unwinding disaster after the fact. We can make F-35s, Aircraft carriers, Nuclear bomb upgrades, A Space Force, but, we cannot stock paper masks. ?

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        We can make F-35s, Aircraft carriers, Nuclear bomb upgrades, A Space Force, but, we cannot stock paper masks.

        Hahaha, that has been my exact rant for the last 2 months!

      • cas127 says:

        “We can make F-35s, Aircraft carriers, Nuclear bomb upgrades, A Space Force, but, we cannot stock paper masks.”

        The F35 has had a ton of development/production problems, Navy ships have repeatedly beached themselves on charted shoals, the AF has misrouted nukes multiple times, and the Space Force hasn’t done anything yet…thus no f ups.

        As time goes on, American tech superiority is becoming more mythic than real…but the G and its flying monkeys of the MSM are pretty heavily invested in “normalcy”

        Thus, a “Superpower” (Wonder Twins Activate!) that can’t make paper masks at scale…

        • R Hughes says:

          Agreed F35 designed by lobbyist, built by politicians, certified the best by people who have never flown. Intended to be the everything to everyone and spread the $$$ around.

          Now we even find the secret stealth coating comes off if flown above mac 1. Pilot helmets cost 450k a piece. I’ve read military wants it to stay 100 miles away from enemy and just use its missiles because it can not dog fight or even maneuver well against jets from you know where.

          Read up on latest carrier, elevators don’t work, launch system defective, toilet system clog up, and numerous other systems are well no so great.

          We still have superb engineers in US, but they are relegated to the rear and MBA’s and bean counters and other politically motivated creatures make the decisions.

    • Seneca's cliff says:

      Y2K was a known and agreed upon problem. Well before the deadline thousands of Engineers, Programers and Data Scientists worked in a logical a meticulous manner to solve the problem on time. Covid-19 was ignored until the last minute and then they backed up the clown car and the clowns got out and ran in circles arguing with each other. What a difference 20 years makes.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Succinctly correct. Although many of us Engineers, Programmers and Data Scientists remember a few management clowns running around in the months preceding December 1999. We knew exactly what it was and precisely when it was coming, there is little similarity to SARS-CoV-2.

  10. Denise says:

    So much of our flying future is dependent on a vaccine this winter in time for flu season. My guess is that the vaccine being tested is one that is RNA based and can be piggy backed on to RNA based influenza vaccines already in clinical trials. This is my guess. Traditional vaccine development will take to long. Given the global population size and the need to conduct business globally and the need to recover global tourism which is the disposable side of every economy. We will not see a return to growth until this happens . I would test this on subsets of each age group first in hopes of increasing the heard numbers. Just my hopeful wishful thinking because I am getting pretty tired of staying at home. Too many canceled plans. I need to at least dream of feeding my wonderlust.

    • lenert says:

      Every disaster movie starts out with people in power ignoring the scientists. Just gonna let them do their thing and wait for the all-clear.

      • p coyle says:

        i will admit i am unfamiliar with the disaster movie genre. in these movies, do the people in power ignore all scientists, or do they first listen instead to the ones with corporate affiliations, thereby making the disaster worse in the long run? i imagine some plucky group of misfits manage to fight through this and other adversities before managing to save the day for the little people, or as VVNV would say, we the peedons. it wouldn’t make a good show otherwise, i assume.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Some disaster movies do not end well.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Have to admit I got the “peedons” from Unamused, whose wit and wisdom is lacking on here lately, to our detriment.
          Otherwise pc, I too lacking knowledge with the movie genre, though it certainly seems from what you summarize that we are following that script fairly well, so far.
          As we appear to be still stuck in the first act or early scenes, I suppose we can still hope that some fearless actual leader will appear soon, eh
          If not, I am voting with LH as far as coming endings/results.

    • nick kelly says:

      Looks like leader ( there are at least ten contenders) has been tested successfully on monkeys in Australia (local partner of US co) . They were given vaccine and their lungs proved completely resistant to increased strengths of virus, with some affect on nasal passages.

      Prob is you can’t just expose humans to virus for test purposes. A really sick person can sign off on experimental drugs but that has no application to a vaccine. So soon 5000 will be given vaccine and 5000 placebo and see what happens.

      My only thought is: is this going to be in Oz, where I believe there is not that much covid.
      Maybe somewhere with lots, and with bars open.
      Of course you would have to test both test groups first to eliminate any with virus already.

      We are in a hurry for this vaccine!

      • nick kelly says:

        Have just been told Oz has lots of covid. China connection?

        • Willy Winky says:

          I know Simon Thornley — he is a senior epidemiologist at the university of auckland and head of the Plan B group in New Zealand.

          The Plan B group has taken the same position as Michael Burry did in a Bloomberg article in March namely, there needs to be a middle ground because extreme lockdowns destroy economies and lives.

          NZ has effectively controlled Covid but the economy is in ruins.

          Wage subsidies and bailouts are all that are between us and the abyss. The wage subsidies will need to be extended… and extended… and extended… otherwise the property market will implode and we’ll have a full blown financial crisis.

          You mention Australia.

          Australia has not been anywhere near as restrictive as NZ in terms of their Covid lockdown.

          In the interest of getting the facts straight, they have roughly the same infections and deaths per 100k as NZ.

          I will point to Hong Kong as my preferred model. Everyone wears face coverings. 8 million people. 4 (as in FOUR) deaths from Covid.

      • Harrold says:

        A vaccine may not even be possible.

      • David Hall says:

        Remdesivir was tested in monkeys for use against the Ebola virus. It was effective in monkeys, but not in humans. The first Ebola virus outbreak happened in the 1970’s with a high fatality rate. The first successful Ebola vaccine was approved in 2019.

        Remdesivir as a therapeutic has been shown to reduce COVID hospital stays in an early clinical trial.

        Talk of vaccine development is not proof of efficacy.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘Talk of vaccine development is not proof of efficacy.’

          Since that is true by definition it’s true.

          However…the 348 million dollar second tier trials by Novavax are not just talk.

        • Tim says:

          Yes, but, David, a vaccine is a simple concept that can be easily latched on to.

          Back to that attention span thing…

  11. Michael Engel says:

    1) QQQ is up, closing Feb 20/21 gap // Hertz yellow corvettes are driven by estate lawyers to nowhere.
    2) The airlines made an emergency landing, but 25% of small business
    caught fire.
    3) $3T in round small business rd #2, will have fewer customers.
    4) Since only 75% of small business are still alive, the $3T x 0.25 = $750B
    will be allocated for ice cream in the summer time.

  12. Raymond Rogers says:

    Japan is thinking of subsidizing travel at 50%. I just might have to take them up on that. I guess there is a 1.35 trillion yen proposal on the board.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      I too might take them up for it, but for Fall travel.

      Their response to the pandemic was less than optimal, but somehow it all worked out. You can always rely on the cleanliness of a regular Japanese person.

      • Raymond Rogers says:

        Indeed. My thoughts are that it is probably one of the safer places to be during all of this.

  13. Seneca's cliff says:

    Will we go back to the cheap air fare model we have had for 30 years ( I remember it arrived and old time air travelers called it the coming of the bus people) or will we have to go back to a more regulated model to keep the airlines in business with fewer flights and higher prices? Back in the early 1980’s when my now wife traveled from her home in Hawaii to college in New York it was so expensive ( over $2000 in 1980’s dollars ) that she had to spend Christmas break with friends on the East Coast because flying home for the holidays was out of the question.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Howzabout SFO to Gatwick early September 1970 for $100, (1 Stop in Bangor for fuel only,) ,, “Imperial” pints of Guiness on tap in Galway for ONE SHILLING,,, etc., SC,,,
      wonderful people picking up hitchhikers and some ”treating” all the way until dropping off the next morning on the road to the next desired destination.
      Only difficulty was getting enough exercise on the ”hiking” part because rides came so quick everywhere in England, Wales, Scotland, and especially Ireland.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        VV – the 60’s and 70’s in the US were another time. I recall that folks were nicer to strangers. Many things were affordable as a fraction of income. That was before we “decided” to expend massive resources on downtrodden individuals and import more unskilled downtrodden. On the other hand we ran a war on the other side of the globe for years.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          True in general Lisa,
          I used to hitch hike all over USA, as well as Britain mentioned. Once from OR to SF to Maine to FL to LV and back to OR, with some folks going out of their shortest way to help a little more.
          Unfortunately, being from the south, I was not happy whenever I did get dropped off anywhere there, and never went through that area with anything close to ”carrying” etc,,, also had several bad scenes when staff rushed out of diners to tell us they didn’t serve ”hippies” at a time when my hair was barely over my collar, etc…
          Started doing the ”drive a way” process as soon as I had the $$,,, wonder if that is still going on??

  14. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    Guess WS found another piece of good news it need to pump some of those dead weight airline stock back up, nevermind the context is as lousy as ever, think all the saw was 265% up in six weeks and there goes Delta stock, 11% up today…

    “The TSA reported this morning that on Monday, Memorial Day, checkpoint screenings at US airports reached 340,769. On Friday, the total screenings had reached 348,673, the highest since lockdowns started, and more than triple the 95,000-range in mid-April. When something shoots up 265% in six weeks, as the TSA checkpoint screenings have done, that’s encouraging.”

  15. Just Some Random Guy says:

    More evidence the V shape is happening. New home sales “unexpectedly” increased in April. The “experts” were expecting 480,000. Actual number? Just a tad higher at 623,000. What’s a 30% miss between friends? They’re experts!! They know stuff. Always listen to them.

    • Phoenix_Ikki says:

      About your name, starting to wonder if you’re Just Some Random Guy but miss out the last part from NAR, either that or I take it your comment is supposed to be sarcastic?

    • Willy Winky says:

      JSRG — I lived in Asia during the Asian Financial Crisis — the HK property market crashed 70%.

      I can still remember the MSM every month or so running property spin articles… one could sense how they were trying to create a ‘FOMO’ scenario…

      As in OMG the market is about to explode I need to buy now before it’s too late!!!

      It didn’t work. The MSM has a lot of juice and they can often make people believe a circle is a square (just keep on repeating it….)

      But sometimes it does not work. It did not work in HK (those headlines ran for years) because people were crushed by the crisis which was followed by the dotcom mess….

      And it will not work now — for obvious reasons.

      But they will keep trying to fool you.

      I know of someone who tried to buy two units here a few weeks ago – they were outbid hahaha….

      These are investment properties. Prices are down a bit but no way reflective of the macro (no tourists… massive unemployment). I have no idea how the bank is valuing them as they know the macro so not sure what level of financing is available.

      The person looking to buy firmly believes NZ will recover by the summer.

      This person also believes that even if the situation does not return to pre Covid levels, that businesses will innovate and come up with new revenue streams to compensate.

      He probably believes that people can turn lead into gold.

      I suspect that if he finds a ‘deal’ and does buy property, he’s going to be in for a nasty surprise.

      “You can ignore reality but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality”

      It is useful to understand the the MSM is a platform for PR companies to push their clients’ agendas. And these agendas are often not in your best interests.

  16. Dimitri says:

    Forget the second wave narrative, the first one will just continue and get worse in places. With all the activity we saw last weekend, I think we’ll see counties getting locked down instead of states in the near future.

    • Xabier says:

      The UK government has been talking about localised lock-downs if new COVID hotspots develop.

  17. Augusto says:

    The world is going to be different and just because something is going up, like airport travel one weekend, doesn’t mean its going back to the way it was. And was that way so great anyways? Why everyone clings to the past so desperately as the new future, is kind of weird.

    • Tim says:


      Because to imagine something else is just too scary. Reality will simply have to be inflicted before it is accepted.

  18. Michael Engel says:

    1) The sky is blue on SPY, but QQQ is red. After 30Y Bill Gates
    resigned from MSFT board and the Nasdaq 100 is mourning.
    2) If Mika & Joe Morning will send QQQ < 231 tomorrow at 4pm, red supply bars on high volume might appear on the chart.
    3) Today QQQ bar is twice as large as the previous bar, on about the same volume.
    4) The high of the day was at the open, on a huge gap, since then was all black, until it became big red. 5) If today QQQ is LPSY, within few weeks Bill Gate will not be the richest man in the world.
    5) QQQ hinge will close the door on many investors.
    6) It will try to land on the flatbed of QQQ daily cloud (18,52,104), down below, on one engine.

  19. VintageVNvet says:

    The ” period over period” statistics are coming JWF.
    Some already seen this morning suggesting delta 54K, but don’t remember base or bases,,, should be readily available on net now.
    This event is in such an early inning, likely not more than the top of the first,,,, so 18 more half innings to go,,, or at least 8 full innings IMHO.
    Patience is not one of my strong suites, so I keep on keeping on, hoping to cultivate at least a nominal parity with some semblance of reality,,, but, other than that, just hoping to be able to cultivate more non-attachment, and getting lots of help with the various and sundry obviously crooked data.
    Quite challenging for any truth seeker, far shore, but, again, just more opportunity to cultivate non attachment, eh???

  20. Drater says:

    Just bought a ticket for $482 to Poland (direct flights on 787s LAX-Warsaw) in September for a 7 week vacation – a few months ago the fares were $800. If the flights are cancelled, LOT airlines will issue a voucher that can be redeemed within 2 years.

  21. Mike says:

    Amen. It will be difficult in ANY enclosed place. We have no idea of the real infection rates per state without random testing, so we cannot even tell how many passengers are likely infected per trip. See The National Review’s article and other articles as to random testing for coronavirus being necessary because non-random testing will likely skew the results.

    Airborne coronaviruses can reportedly enter through the eyes and no eye protection is being used by any passengers in ANY public transportation. See Forbes article as to coronavirus eye problems and other similar articles. Thus, the NY stock exchange requires traders to sign waivers of liability for new coronavirus infections now per NBC news.

    That is why many employers want their possible liability to be eliminated or limited as to employees infected in their facilities. Instead, they should increase prevention efforts like requiring goggles or using UV lights to sterilize and strong air pressure to keep clean air flowing to potential infected persons. As a lawyer, I look forward to later filing many wrongful death suits against these negligent airlines and employers.

  22. njbr says:

    CV on a plane. Be worried. Studies show inadequate clearance of viruses.


    Measles on a plane (consider the probability of an unvaccinated measles-ill person and an unvaccinated healthy person on the same plane and compare it to the probability of a CV-ill person and previously unexposed population on the same flight. )

    Quote….However, recent work has shown that cabin air flow may not be as reliable a barrier to the spread of measles virus as previously believed. Along with these new studies, several reports have described measles developing after travel in passengers seated some distance from the index case….Nine reports, including 13 index cases and 23 apparent secondary cases on 10 flights, were identified in which transmission on board the aircraft appeared likely and which included seating information for both the index (primary) and secondary cases. Separation between index and secondary cases ranged from adjacent seats to 17 rows, with a median of 6 rows…Although the pattern of cabin air flow typical of modern commercial aircraft has been considered highly effective in limiting the airborne spread of microorganisms, concerns have been raised about relying on the operation of these systems to determine exposure risk, as turbulence in the cabin air stream is generated when passengers and crew are aboard, allowing the transmission of infectious agents over many rows. Additionally, the characteristics of some index cases may reflect a greater likelihood of disease transmission. Investigators should continue to examine carefully both aircraft and index-case factors that may influence disease transmission and could serve as indicators on a case-by-case basis to include a broader group of travelers in a contact investigation….


  23. Willy Winky says:


    May 26, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    ‘Agree with the concepts WW, but the fact WAS nobody really understood exactly how this virus was going to ”act out” based on the clearly faulty data from CCP, as well as the extreme resulting and seen clearly out of control in Italy and NY.’

    Replying to that here as there is no reply option on your response above.

    The CDC has a 233 page pandemic contingency document.

    They also have additional plans for the workplace, schools etc…

    There is a single page document that highly recommends face coverings be deployed during pandemics ‘Cloth Face Coverings: Questions and Answers’

    You can google all that.

    To say that they were not prepared is simply not true.

    SARS is similar to Covid (it is a coronavirus) so the WHO/CDC would have details protocols in place to deal with something like COVID.

    When something this serious hits one of the main ways to mitigate the spread is to wear face coverings.

    The CDC site states that specifically.

    I have spoken to two epidemiologists including the key guy advising the Australian government Peter Collignon – he spent 15 minutes explaining to me that face coverings are hugely effective (he did not recommend medical masks because they cannot be washed and there could be shortages).

    I am at a loss as to why leaders have not recommended masks. We are at war yet we send the boys off without steel helmets because ????

    Jacinda Ardern stated just two weeks ago that she is not recommending face coverings because ‘they may do more harm than good’ (I can post the link to that if anyone is interested).

    Then we have Hong Kong – 8M people wearing masks not because they were told to — but because they experienced SARS and they know the coverings are a good idea (maybe they read the CDC site — Fauci seems to have missed that until just recently).

    4 DEATHS.

    This is not incompetence (evern single government is incompetent???)

    Or lack of preparation.

    And it is not corruption because I hardly think governments would allow some entity to make a few billion of what – a vaccine that does not exist — when literally trillions have been spent shoring up the global economy with no end in site.

    I think the travel industry might want to have a word with Big Pharma….(or maybe a mass fist fight involving each other’s stakeholders?)

    There are no excuses.

    If masks would have been recommended — or better still how about passing laws requiring them (as places like LA have done) but before the horse was out of the barn – we would not be in this grim position.

    Yet here we have Ardern not only not recommending them – but saying they are harmful.

    And here we have most countries still not recommending or mandating them.

    Covid is a virus.

    As per the CDC site you pick up viruses by 1. touching surfaces that have the virus on them and putting your fingers in your mouth/nose/eyes …. 2. being near an infected person who sneezes or coughs.

    Face coverings prevent your droplets from flying into the air and onto surfaces. And they make it less likely you will touch your face.

    Seems rather simple to me. Again – Hong Kong is the model.

    If we had followed (or immediately STARTED to follow that model)… we would not be in these dire straits.

  24. David Dawei says:

    They could probably buy Boeing’s Max for 50% off and get 0% financing….
    It might even be ready to fly by the time they need it.

    I read this article on May9-Delta halts flights at select cities

  25. MC01 says:

    It’s one thing to take the occasion to scrap the least profitable part of the fleet: everybody around the world is doing it. Air France finally got rid of their Airbus A380, an aircraft they never needed nor liked, and even Emirates will start scrapping the higher hours A380 airframes next year.
    But what US airlines are doing will end up crippling their capacity well beyond even the worst case scenarios: to give another example JetBlue is completely retiring their Embraer E190 fleet, 60 aircraft. This fleet was to be progressively replaced with brand new Airbus A220 on a one-on-one basis but to save cash JetBlue decided to reschedule deliveries and should be back to pre-crisis level in Q4 2025/Q1 2026. The general consensus in the industry outside the US right now is pre-crisis levels will be reached between Q4 2021 (best case scenario) and Q1 2023 (worst case scenario). JetBlue will completely miss the recovery bus, but they will be in good company. American Airlines in particular will take the proverbial pounding.

    Now, US airlines think they can afford this: they operate in a protected market and they are cartelized. But what happens if that environment stops being protected or, much more likely, the cartel breaks up? SouthWest and Spirit may be cheap and nasty, but they have the cash and, much more critical, an aggressive management.
    Indigo Partners has a lot of cash and experience in operating airlines from Hungary to Chile.

    • Engin-ear says:

      Why scrapping Airbus A380, the only aircraft offering real 50 passengers seats under future social distancing rules?

      • MC01 says:

        I won’t get into why “social distancing” (I’d like to get my hands on the person who invented this term and administer some tough love) won’t survive as long as so many people think. Suffice to say during the post-emergency phase load factors won’t be high enough to pose a problem on any aircraft.

        The big problem with the A380 is quickly said: breaking even with it is a complete nightmare even at the best of times. In 2019 Emirates had a load factor of 77%. Since their 777 have about the same load factor as those of their competitors (85%) it means their A380 had a load factor of 69%. Emirates has some pretty low costs compared to other airlines, but even for Emirates breaking even at 69% is extremely hard if not impossible on many routes, and the A380 is an expensive aircraft to operate, regardless of all the PR non-sense Airbus spread around over the past 15 years. As Tim Cook himself said last week: “The future belongs to the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787”. Needless to say Emirates has large numbers of both on order, and deliveries haven’t been re-scheduled.
        No word on the 777X, which should theoretically pick up the slack from the A380 in the Emirates fleet and which is presently in the flight test phase, so if I were Boeing I’d start considering shifting some production to the 787. ;-)

        I often really envy men like Tim Cook: while I am here shaking, scared to death by a bunch of politicians who should have been sent home long ago, he’s taking decisions that will shape air travel over the next decade. It doesn’t take merely genius, but guts as well.

  26. Engin-ear says:

    “while I am here shaking, scared to death by a bunch of politicians”

    That’a a sign of wisdom. Politicians are not as harmless as they look.

    Back to A380, I saw a report yesterday saying that was a marketing miscalculation, meaning that not all landing grounds are suitable for that weight of aircraft and, finally, customers see more comfort in direct flights and choice of time.

    • MC01 says:

      I will cover the A380’s failure at some point in the near future (a Wolf Street exclusive!) but for now suffice to say the chief problem is the A380 was a few years too late: exactly like the cancelled McDonnel-Douglas MD12 (which looked rather similar on paper) the A380 was conceived in the late 80’s to break Boeing’s near monopoly in the VLA (Very large Aircraft) segment. The A380 had a long, troubled and very expensive development and ended up hitting the market at a time when it was evident the VLA concept was on a decline: Boeing had correctly predicted this in 2002 already but went ahead with the 747-8 because GE agreed to shoulder a large chunk of development costs and because at the time there was a lot of interest for the freighter version.
      On top of this the A380 is an expensive aircraft to operate: it needs a very large cabin crew, dedicated ground facilities and support. Landing, parking, handling etc fees are considerably higher than for a 747.

      I honestly don’t know how Airbus managed to interest Emirates in the A380 since Tim Cook has never been particularly enthusiastic about the aircraft but Gulf companies tend to keep a foot in both shoes for political reasons, if you know what I mean, and at the time the A350 was still years in the future and with an uncertain development cycle.

  27. Jan de Jong says:

    If the airlines are going to pretend that everything should resume as before then I will not be buying a ticket. Chance of dying when infected is in the order of 1 in a hundred for me. More dangerous than any other sport.

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