Future of Airlines in 2021

American plane on tarmac

It’s easy to imagine the negative financial impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on the airline industry. With travel restrictions and all-out bans littering the spring, summer, and fall, the airline industry suffered a massive decline in travelers and, consequently, revenue. According to a report supervised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry in a whole saw a drop in revenue of half-a-trillion dollars (from $838 billion in 2019 down to $328 billion). Even while cutting costs by 45%, the industry and the airlines are seeing historic losses.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO, stated, “The history books will record 2020 as the industry’s worst financial year, bar none.”1

With multiple pharmaceutical companies perfecting a vaccine for the coronavirus, most people have optimism that 2021 will bring back normal life sooner or later. The future of airlines in 2021 is largely up in the air, no pun intended. While the industry experts expect a bounce back from the crippling 2020, a lot remains to be seen as to how big a bounce back it will be.

What to Expect From Airlines in 2021

While the IATA anticipates a positive regression in 2021, the expected losses are still severe. There is a forecasted loss of $38.7 billion in 2021. This would become the second-worst year only to the preceding in the history of the airline industry. Passenger numbers are expected to grow, but still hover far under what has become the industry norm.

A lot of people decided to skip their travel in 2020 in fear of spreading the virus. Even heading into 2021, it’s fair to ask, “Is it safe to fly during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Many people are asking the same question; demand is expected to be down 41% in 2021.2 You can expect most major airlines to continue the social distancing practices they have implemented through the pandemic, although some airlines can be expected to return to business as usual before long. 

The entire world felt the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. It will take almost everything a year or two to readjust and get back on track. While the future of airlines in 2021 is brighter* than the darkest mark in its history, there is not a sense of pessimism in the industry’s leaders overall.

*February 14, 2021 update: Despite the headlines, we have posted multiple job openings for Aircraft Dispatchers in the past 6 days, as well as 1-2 airlines in January and 3 listings beginning in December 2020. One of these was a major U.S. cargo airline, where many Sheffield graduates are employed. This may signify a slow turnaround earlier than expected since we usually post only the openings that are sent to us. These are certainly not the only companies offering employment. Those attaining FAA Aircraft Dispatcher certificates were able to apply immediately for these positions. 

Sheffield School of Aeronautics is one of the oldest aviation training institutions in the United States, where you can take a flight dispatcher course and obtain your FAA dispatcher license. Sheffield has an outstanding reputation in the aviation industry, recognized by companies like Delta, United, KLM, American, Virgin Australia, Cayman Airways, Shanghai/China Eastern, ExpressJet, Federal Express, UPS, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, United Technologies, Mobil Oil, Gulf Air, Atlantic Southeast, Comair, Mesaba, Horizon, American Trans Air, and many others for aircraft dispatcher training. If you’re interested in becoming an aircraft dispatcher, contact us to get started: 954-581-6022, or email morris@sheffield.com.

  1. IATA – Deep Losses Continue Into 2021
  2. Forbes – Airlines Expect Slow Return to Growth, With Demand Down 41% In 2021


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