The travel industry has of course been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and data is showing just how much.
According to the TSA, daily passenger traffic at U.S. airports is down nearly 90% from this time last year. Falling demand has caused major U.S. carriers like American (AAL), United (UAL), and Southwest Airlines (LUV) to cut about 40% of their domestic flights, leaving analysts to wonder how long they can stay above ground.
“The airlines are going to have to come through with a convincing plan in order to say, ‘we can keep we can keep you safe on this airplane.’ They don't have that right now,” Mark Penn, Chairman of The Harris Poll, told Yahoo Finance. “Airlines are going to have their job cut out for them.”
Penn’s comments come after the release of new data from The Harris Poll, which shows a severe lack of trust that traveling will be safe anytime soon. According the poll, 1 in 5 respondents would wait four months after news of the virus curve flattening — whenever that may be — to step back onto a plane. And, the poll showed that 29% say they have a “more negative” view of the airline industry since the outbreak.
Fortunately for the economy, that pessimism doesn’t extend into the workplace. The poll’s results suggest the nation is eager to get back to work, with 1 in 5 Americans willing to immediately go into the office once the government provides proof the contagion is slowing down. But in a recent op-ed, Penn says America needs to be patient before returning to the workplace.
“We have chosen to move Americans out of the schools and workplaces to spend their days at home with their families. That’s the choice we have made, and we have to stick to that and see if it works,” he writes.
“A back-to-work plan has to include a clear 60-day timeline that starts people going back to work beginning in 30 days community-by-community.”
Nick Rose is a producer for Yahoo Finance.