Using the 9/11 L recovery from the COVID-19 Impact Article 2 and the V-shaped recovery from the initial article, coupled with the largest cuts currently posted ( 50% reduction announced across the entire system for United).
The model assumes the current cuts follow the 9/11 drop (but further) and recovery, until mid summer where they make a V recovery up to a recessionary L model more closely aligned to what we saw after 9/11. Since the current cuts have no precedent, the best the article can guess is that they eventually make a V jump up to the precedent set by traffic levels 4-5 months after 9/11 even these at the time were still very severe. After this point, the model reflects a slow recovery mirroring the the post 9/11 model.
Remember not every airline has the same exposure and so the model may not apply perfectly to each carrier, but assuming it does the following charts are how it would impact pilot demand across the 4 largest airlines.
In the following chart, there is an estimate for pilots needed using Figure 1’s RPK change over time. Obviously, these levels are impractical as the airlines simply can’t process in their training departments the churn that would occur. Even SouthWest, would have difficulty matching these numbers with their single fleet type.
Next – taking the mandatory retirements from Article 2 for the next 3 years, we can average out the retirements per month unique for each carrier/year over the next 3 years. To compensate for the training bubble, we can assume that an airline will need to begin staffing for what it needs (not the month of but) 4 months in advance.
Overlaying these requirements produces the following table of pilot needs for the month of. (Keep in mind United has announced 50% reduction, Delta 40% and American at 20-30% Domestic and up to 75% international- this chart assumes 50% for all which isn’t as accurate) It’s also important to keep in mind that this article doesn’t take into consideration how long a furlough would need to be to make economic sense, due to the costs associated with it. (Usually a reduction of over 6 months to 2 years can make sense)
In some ways, this chart highlights some of the genius behind the early retirement offers, leave of absence, and reduced paid leave. American has agreed to a fairly comprehensive and forward thinking program at the time of this writing. The other carriers will likely be close with similar agreements.
All three of AA’s approaches may play a role in shifting and cushioning the negative numbers for the next year to reduce costs, without resorting to other reductions. If airlines can shift pilot retirements forward by a year on average, and offer some short term leave options, it should be enough to absorb the worst case scenario, until the traffic market can recover to something more recognizable from the last 70 years.