Coronavirus impact on US airlines is 'probably worse' than 9/11, says JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes

“In the US industry, we saw about a 30 percent drop off in traffic around 9/11. This is probably even worse than that"


                            Coronavirus impact on US airlines is 'probably worse' than 9/11, says JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes
(Getty Images)
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American airline JetBlue's CEO, Robin Hayes, on Wednesday, highlighted the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak on the US airline industry, stating that the drop in business "is probably worse" than the downturn that occurred right after 9/11. 

Hayes made the statement during his appearance on CBS This Morning, adding that his company's shares had dropped 20 percent since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the country.

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"I mean, our January and February was really good, and we started seeing the impact around Feb. 25," Hayes said. “In the US industry, we saw about a 30 percent drop off in traffic around 9/11. This is probably even worse than that."

The International Air Transport Association, last week, said that if the virus outbreak gets worse, the revenue losses for the global passenger air business could total $113 billion, or 19 percent. 

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Hayes added that his firm had "done a number of things" to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.  (Getty Images)

"This is the sort of event in the airline industry we only tend to see about once every 10 years," Hayes said on the show. The CEO also tried to assuage public concerns about flying amidst a widespread virus outbreak by insisting that getting on an aircraft was "as safe as everything else you do in your daily life."

Hayes added that his firm had "done a number of things" to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. "First of all, we are deep cleaning and sanitizing and disinfecting our airplanes every night. In addition, we have wipes on board so customers can come on and can wipe down their seat if they want to sort of take some additional precautions," he said.

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The airliner head also wished to "dispel a few myths" about the quality of air passengers breathe in on longer flights, saying: "The way the air systems work is the air tends to come in the top of the airplane, and it comes down and comes out of the bottom,” he said. "Air is recycled on average every three minutes in the cabin. The air is better than most places that you would spend every day."

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The United States states confirmed its 38th coronavirus fatality early on Thursday with over 1,300 people being infected in the country. The global death toll of the virus is over 4,700 with nearly 1,30,000 infections confirmed.