FlyTitle: Air transport

Most airlines are running on empty

大多数航空公司都快没油了【新冠报道】

NO INDUSTRY HAS been more battered by covid-19 than air transport. With people wary of confined spaces—and country after country imposing travel bans—passenger numbers have nosedived, and with them airline revenues. The estimate of $113bn in lost sales, which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) made on March 5th, already looks rosy. The trade body says that the world’s carriers may need $200bn in state aid to stay aloft.

在所有行业中,航空运输业受新冠肺炎的打击最重。人们担心密闭空间不安全,再加上一个又一个国家先后实施旅行禁令,旅客人数急转直下,航空公司的收入也随之俯冲。国际航空运输协会(IATA)3月5日估计销售损失达1130亿美元,现在看来已是过于乐观。IATA表示,全球的航空公司可能需要2000亿美元的国家援助才能维持下去。

Plenty were stalling before the pandemic. Of the 120 airline companies ranked by IATA only around 30 made money in 2017 and 2018. Last year the biggest half-dozen in Europe earned the bulk of the $7bn in profits there, calculates Citigroup, a bank. Many firms had borrowed heavily to buy planes which the virus has grounded. The 90-odd that are in the red have on average six times as much net debt (adjusted for aircraft leases) as EBITDAR (a measure of airline profits). In January the typical carrier had enough cash to cover between 50% and 80% of short-term liabilities and about two months of revenues, IATA says (see chart). Three-quarters could not cover costs beyond three months—if that.

很多航空公司在遭遇这场大流行病之前就已经失速。2017年和2018年,在IATA给120家航空公司的排名中,只有约30家公司盈利。花旗银行估计,去年欧洲的航空公司总利润为70亿美元,其中最大的六家占了大头。许多公司大量借钱购置飞机,结果却因病毒而停飞。IATA排名中处于亏损的90多家公司的净债务(经飞机租赁费调整后)平均是EBITDAR(税息折旧摊销及租金前利润,一项衡量航空公司利润的标准)的六倍。IATA表示,在1月时,一般航空公司有足够的现金来偿付短期债务的50%至80%,现金量约为两个月的收入(见图表);四分之三的公司没有足够的现金支付三个月以上的成本——如果它们能撑那么久的话。

经济学人双语版-飞行风险 Flight risk

Big companies have secured generous credit lines from banks. IAG, which owns British Airways, can tap €1.9bn ($2.1bn) in revolving credit. EasyJet, a British low-cost carrier, has $500m available. Most firms, especially in Europe and Asia, nevertheless have no choice but to cut flights and sack staff. Cancellations in America are a bit less savage while planes are still permitted to crisscross its air space; Southwest has cut just one in five flights. If revenues fall by 35% in 2020, Delta, Southwest and United should end the year with “adequate” liquidity, says JPMorgan Chase, another bank—as long as demand begins to bounce back.

大公司已经从银行获得了慷慨的信贷额度。拥有英国航空公司的国际航空集团(IAG)可以动用19亿欧元(21亿美元)的循环信贷。英国廉价航空公司易捷(EasyJet)有5亿美元的信贷可用。但大多数航空公司,尤其是欧洲和亚洲的公司,除了削减航班和裁员外别无选择。美国没有完全禁飞国内国际航班,航班取消的情况没有那么惨烈。西南航空仅停飞了五分之一的航班。另一家银行摩根大通表示,如果达美航空、西南航空和美联航2020年收入下降35%,那么到年底它们还将有“充足”的流动性——只要需求开始反弹。

经济学人双语版-飞行风险 Flight risk

China offers hope that it might. The first to be infected, its airlines are lifting off again. In mid-February capacity was down by 71% compared with a year ago, says OAG, a data firm. In the first week of March it was 43% lower, as people returned to the skies lured by cheap fares. Combined with government handouts to carriers, which are mostly state-owned, this may tide them over. Airline bosses elsewhere are banking on similar luck—and largesse.

中国的情况带来了反弹的希望。在最先受到“感染”之后,中国的航空公司又开始起飞。数据公司OAG表示,2月中旬中国的航空业运力同比下降了71%。3月第一周,受低廉票价的吸引,乘坐飞机的人数开始增加,运力同比降幅43%。加上政府向大多属国有的航空公司提供援助,也许能让它们渡过难关。其他地方的航空公司老板们也都指望有同样的运气和慷慨的救助。