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Air passenger traffic plummeted nearly 90 per cent in the June to August period from the summer of 2019.
“The industry is going to come back certainly smaller than it was,” said Kokonis, founder and managing director of AirTrav. “I don’t think today’s announcement (that the vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in early testing) changes that expectation.”
Catherine Deluz, a senior vice-president at Moody’s Investors Service, called the Pfizer announcement “good news” for the aviation industry. But she said production and the logistics of vaccinating enough of the population to make a difference would take time.
“This is not an immediate solution,” she said, adding that “air traffic is going to be depressed still for some time.”
Kokonis said Air Canada’s swing from profit to loss in its traditionally strongest quarter illustrates the need for airlines to look at more immediate measures to get people back on planes.
Canada’s largest airline on Monday reported a loss of $685 million compared to a profit of $636 million in the third quarter a year earlier — a swing, he noted, of more than $1 billion.
“There are people who will never fly until there’s a vaccine,” Kokonis acknowledged. But he said many others would if there was more widespread and consistent virus testing and checks in the travel and aviation sector. This could lead to fewer quarantine requirements and facilitate travel to more destinations, he said, noting that Canadians were removed from the European Union’s permissible travel list last month because of growing COVID-19 cases.