PANDEMIC NEWS UPDATE: NASA to update on science missions; travelers’ top three concerns on board aircraft
By Cat Hofacker|July 8, 2020
Our weekly compendium of coronavirus news
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, will host a public, virtual town hall tomorrow at 3 p.m. Eastern “to discuss updates on the agency’s science activities,” the highest priority of which is the Perseverance rover. NASA workers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue to prepare the rover for launch, scheduled for July 30.
In an International Air Transport Association survey in June of 4,700 travelers from 11 countries, 33% of respondents said they would “wait a month or two” to travel once the pandemic subsides. Nearly 50% of respondents to a similar survey in April said they would wait that amount of time. Asked to rank their top concerns around contracting covid-19 on board aircraft, 65% of respondents to the June survey listed sitting next to an infected person; 42% said using the restroom; and 37% listed breathing the air in the plane.
The increase in business jet flights from travelers seeking a safer form of air travel will not translate to a surge of new orders for these aircraft, predicts analyst Brian Foley in an analysis published Monday. “Increased charter and fractional usage must continue into next year before new orders are placed, and traditional buyers must first recover from their own financial situation and have confidence in the future,” Foley wrote.
Air France will cut approximately 6,500 jobs by the end of 2022, the airline said Friday, prompted by what looks to be a “very slow” recovery in air travel through 2024. In a press release, Air France said the “transformation is mainly based on changing its domestic business model, reorganizing its support functions and continuing to reduce its external and internal costs.”
Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it would cap cabin capacity between 50% and 75%, depending on the size of the aircraft, for flights through Sept. 30. The press release came the day after American Airlines resumed booking full-capacity flights, a move that’s drawn criticism from U.S. lawmakers and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Passenger demand for air travel in May 2020 showed a “mild uptick” compared to April, the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association reported last week. The number of kilometers traveled by paying customers in May dropped about 91% compared to May 2019, a slight increase from the 94% decline recorded in April. In the press release, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac attributed the “first improvements” to increased demand in domestic markets.