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Longtime Valley pilot details effects of coronavirus on airline industry

(Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The airline industry has been among the hardest hit in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

With travel down, airlines have slashed their schedules by 70-90% in some cases.

“I think as soon as we get a handle on the situation with COVID-19 as the curve does flatten and public confidence comes back, we’ll start flying airplanes again back to our normal schedule,” Valley-based airline pilot Andy told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Andy, who is only going by his first name because he’s not allowed to officially speak on behalf of his airline, has been an airline pilot since 1984. He’s experienced flying through events like 9/11 and the recession in 2008 when the airline industry took a hit.

Following 9/11, he said Americans knew they needed to take a step back from flying.

“We knew what the threat was. We knew it was a terrorist act and everybody needed to slow down and evaluate the threat,” Andy said. “Today, with this COVID-19 problem, we really don’t know who has it or who doesn’t.

“I think it’s really affected the way public perceives their own personal safety.”

For Andy, he’s still flying planes with cargo, but other pilots are facing low or no pay schedules with the number of flights that have been canceled.

Each airline is different depending on if they’re a regional, domestic or international carrier.

The airline industry is expected to get a major cash influx as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

As part of the $2.2 trillion package, Congress set aside $25 billion in grants and another $25 billion in loans for passenger airlines.

Andy said the industry is looking at the current situation on a week-to week-or month-to-month basis, not a year-to-year basis.

“As far as getting back to normal, this is one of those things where historically it took some time, but I see us bouncing back pretty quick,” Andy said.

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