It’s a necessary evil right now…but nobody should be happy about it.
I see a lot of people in here practically cheering as countries ban flights and airlines cancel routes. It appears many think the airline executives are the only people benefitting from keeping them operating…and profit is the only consideration when canceling these flights.
In reality the problem of stopping airline flights is much greater than profits. For one, a large portion of the world’s shipping logistics relies on commercial airlines. As somebody who works in logistics for a B2C company, we’re already seeing significantly reduced air freight capacity from China…which is leading to substantially increased shipping rates and a lot of delays. Ocean cargo is still running (though at reduced capacity), but that takes upwards of 30 days to deliver goods between continents. As these flight stoppages spread around the world…you’re going to see all shipping dramatically impacted.
That means an increase in shortages, further delays on global goods, and and increase in the price of products in stores for anything shipped via air. And as other modes of shipping are squeezed…those effects could ripple to all transportation logistics.
Furthermore, there are countless jobs and industries that rely on air travel/tourism…restaurants, retail stores, trains/public transit, taxis, museums and tourist attractions, hotels, the wholesale businesses who supply all of these places… in every city around the world. This is millions of jobs. Many of these are local businesses without a lot of reserve capital. They’ll already be pinched by people staying indoors more / quarantines. They’re going to be double hit without airlines moving more people in, and many won’t be able to weather it without layoffs.
Another impact…Oil prices are unfortunately deeply embedded in the global economy. Over the last several years oil companies have already been laying off thousands and going bankrupt at a high rate, as oil prices have steadily come down. These prices rely on the airline industry. They also rely on commercial production of thousands of goods that use petrochemicals (including all plastics). Both of those things are impacted right now.
While it may seem like sharply dropping oil prices is a good thing…especially as we see falling fuel prices. Problem is that at some point it becomes more expensive to produce oil than they can make. In the long run this can lead to shortages and bankruptcy of oil companies…which in turn has effects like shortages of fuel at the pumps/increased gas prices.
Those are just to name a few impacts of this.
The cancellations are obviously a necessary evil. But nobody should be acting like this is a minor decision to be making. And nobody should be taking a “good, fuck the airlines” mentality. We should be hoping these airlines can figure out any way to keep planes moving without people flying in them…and these industries don’t go under, as shitty as many of them may be.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post and it doesn’t represent the views of IWB.