With more than a billion vaccinations already administered against COVID-19, there’s the tantalizing sense that we might soon return to our former traveling lives. In just the past few days, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that his country would soon reopen for tourists, including Americans, and French President Emmanuel Macron told CBS News that France would allow vaccinated Americans into the country during the summer tourist season—”with a special pass, I would say.”
But it will take a lot more than “a special pass” to stanch the bleeding in one industry: aviation.
Even if tourists begin hopping on planes again to far-off destinations, analysts say that business travel, the real moneymaker for airlines, will take years longer to recover—if it ever does.
“Corporate travel might not get back to normality, perhaps ever,” says Mark Manduca, managing director in equity research at Citigroup in London.
That leaves some of the airline industry in perilous shape, as it tries to figure out how to survive a pandemic that has lasted far longer than expected just a year ago.