It’s inevitable that the spread of COVID-19 is going to dominate any editor’s comments within the media. While scientists seek a cure in facilities around the world, industries are preparing themselves for what looks set to be an unusual spring, summer and, maybe, autumn. At a time when we’re all beginning to think of places to jet off to, the reality is that we will be following government advice, sitting tight and looking after loved ones. But while the medical repercussions have been reported by countless press outlets, it’s only now that the media is focusing on what this will all mean to the industry, and in LARA’s case the LCCs and regional airlines.
The partnerships between regional carriers and their larger airline counterparts can be complex at the best of times. Under Capacity Purchase Agreements, where the lead partner sells the ticket and the regional carrier performs the flying, the regional is compensated by the mainline, not the passenger directly, for its work. Under such partnerships, regional airlines do not control the way capacity may be drawn down, which will be likely over the coming months. It means that they’ll have no ability to make the needed revenue increase to repay loans for aircraft or to sustain a non-flying workforce during this crisis. This is just one example of what LCCs and regional airlines are now facing.
It’s now at tipping point for many governments. We have long heard the phrase “it’s all about connectivity,” whereby the little guys are keeping isolated regions in touch, smaller airports in operation and generally improving a remote community’s well-being.
At a time when we all have to keep our distance from each other, it’s also perhaps the time for governments around the world to demonstrate that they know the worth of LCCs and regional airlines, by providing the support and funding that they all need and have requested.
When the time comes to get together after this crisis has passed, people will want to be able to fly to their relatives to reconnect and rebuild their lives – let’s make sure the LCCs and regional carriers are still there to help them to do so.