North American airlines: the post-pandemic battle

Tom Batchelor takes an in-depth look at how North America’s airlines are tackling everything from pilot shortages to a jumpy cargo sector

The North American aviation sector weathered the pandemic better than most. Thanks to extensive consolidation and restructuring, US carriers had been outperforming the rest of the world in the leadup to COVID-19. And while they lost around $63bn in 2020 alone, generous government support during the prolonged travel shutdown and robust demand for air travel in the immediate aftermath of the crisis meant the North American market has since rebounded, becoming the strongest performing region in 2022, and the only region whose airlines are expected to return to profitability this year. “US airlines have fared better, due in part to mergers leading to a more consolidated market,” a report by McKinsey stated earlier this year. “US carriers were careful to add capacity at a slower rate than GDP growth and only on routes where they had already enjoyed a competitive advantage.”

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