Coronavirus

United Airlines CEO: 'Tough Year Ahead' Before Vaccine Exists

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby believes air travel will come back once a vaccine exists for the coronavirus.

“We’ve got a tough year ahead until there’s a vaccine,” the executive said per CNBC. “The good news is, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

United keeps expending a forecast $40 million daily even with strong efforts to reduce expenses. The air carrier could reduce its workforce by as much as 36,000 positions beginning Oct. 1 and has roughly 40 percent of its airplanes parked.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield previously said that there would be a “limited supply” of a vaccine after a contender is given the green light for public distribution domestically.

“At first, there will likely be a limited supply of one or more of the Covid-19 vaccines, because limited doses will be available,” Redfield said per the report.

The news comes as United Airlines scrapped the $200 charge to change a ticket for domestic travel. The company also said travelers can fly standby without a charge on a flight leaving the day of travel regardless of the type of ticket or class of service they choose.

As previously reported, the outlook for the aviation space appears cloudy at best up to the time a coronavirus vaccine exists. The United Airlines chief previously indicated that revenues are not forecast to rise above 50 percent of 2019 levels prior to that time.

“We don't expect to get anywhere close to normal until there's a vaccine that's been widely distributed to a large portion of the population,” Kirby said in a CNBC interview on July 22.

One of the largest hurdles airlines face is getting consumer confidence back. A PYMNTS survey of 8,000 American consumers displayed a high level of fear, with a number pinning a vaccine as a must prior to getting back to their usual activities.

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