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Demand is unlikely to recover until the vaccine becomes widely available



United Airlines Boeing 737-800 and United Airlines Airbus A320 on a prominent approach to San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco.

Louis Ribbon | Reuters

The chief executive of United Airlines said Sunday that the recovery of the aviation industry will have to wait until the Covid-1

9 vaccine is approved and widely available, a milestone that the company predicts the country will reach by the end of 2021.

“I hope this happens sooner, but we’re guessing it’s the end of next year,” Scott Kirby said in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.

Kirby’s comments are in line with the predictions of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on infectious diseases. But they contrast with recent statements by President Donald Trump, who predicts that the United States will soon return to normal as he runs for a second term before the November contest against Democrat Joe Biden.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the aviation industry, leading to virtual stagnation of business travel, preventing international travel for US citizens and restricting leisure travel.

Kirby said that, with the exception of new federal legislation, United will be forced to lay off 16,000 workers as early as next month after existing funds released in March run out. He said the company continues to burn $ 25 million a day amid a 85% drop in revenue.

“In a business like ours, demand won’t return until people feel safe around other people and that will take a vaccine,” Kirby said. “And that’s just the reality. Some businesses may recover sooner, but in aviation and all the industries we support, it will take longer.”

A new bill to rescue Covid-19 is unlikely to appear before October, with Republicans and Democrats going to a dead end on how much to increase state unemployment benefits and municipal funding. Last week, GOP’s efforts to adopt the so-called A “weak” relief bill failed in the Senate, where the party holds a majority.

“The reality is that without more government support for the entire economy, more cuts are coming,” Kirby said.

The timing of approval and distribution of Covid-19 remains uncertain, depending on the results of clinical trials. U.S. regulators have not yet approved any vaccine as safe and effective, although there are a number of candidates in the late stages of the process.

Trump has suggested that the vaccine could be approved before election day, November 3, leading to accusations from Democrats that it politicizes the scientific process. Trump said Thursday that the United States is “going around the corner” of the pandemic.

Experts, including Fauci, said the vaccine could be approved by the end of the year, and possibly even in November, but warned it would take longer to return to normal.

In an interview with MSNBC on Friday, Fauci said that a return to normal could take “until 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021.”


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