Is It Time The US Ban Domestic Flights?

Filed Under: Aviation

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story about how US domestic passenger flights could be virtually shut down, voluntarily or by government order. I wanted to take a look at that, and also share my take on the current situation.

Domestic flights are empty

Despite a lack of government restrictions (at least in most parts of the country), people aren’t taking a lot of domestic US flights right now. That’s good news, because people should be staying home so that we can squash this thing and get a return to normalcy sooner rather than later.

While airlines have canceled a good percentage of flights, the reality is that many flights still have load factors of under 20%. Yesterday I shared a sampling of some United flights, which were between 5% and 14% full.

Presumably airlines are bleeding money on the routes that they’re operating. Then again, parking planes isn’t exactly cheap either.

Most domestic flights are under 20% full

Why do airlines operate mostly empty flights?

That raises the question of why US airlines continue to operate these flights. My best guess is that they’re doing so because they’re also asking for government aid right now.

Presumably the optics of asking for tens of billions of dollars looks better when you’re actually continuing to operate your business best you can within the guidelines set by the government, rather than shutting down.

At least that’s the only reasonable explanation I can think of.

Optics aside, this just seems very poorly executed, no matter what — flying empty planes is costly for airlines and bad for the environment. We don’t need over a dozen flights per day in some city pairs, when most flights are under 20% full.

I understand there’s a need for some connectivity to get people places, but the volume of flights we’re seeing seems unnecessary.

Asking for government aid while grounding all flights may send the wrong message

Options being considered to reduce domestic travel

This gets to the WSJ story I mentioned above. According to industry and federal officials, there’s serious consideration for just ending all US domestic flights. Apparently airlines are considering this independently, and the government is also considering such a ban on flights, though no decision has been made.

There are a few issues at play here:

  • Flights are legitimately empty, in some cases with load factors in the single digits
  • On Sunday traffic through TSA checkpoints was down by over 80% compared to the same day last year, and it’s expected demand will drop even more
  • One major issue has been that air traffic control centers have shut down every time there has been a COVID-19 case, and this has now happened several times, causing panic

TSA checkpoints are empty right now

Airlines want the government to ban domestic travel

Airlines seem to have a strong preference for the government banning domestic travel, or at least mandating reductions in frequencies, rather than voluntarily suspending operations. Why?

  • Government restrictions on flying give the airlines more clout when it comes to their request for government aid
  • In terms of labor agreements and union negotiations, a government shutdown would make things much easier for the airlines than a voluntary shutdown

Airlines would rather be forced to cancel flights, rather than do so voluntarily

Trump seems unlikely to do that

While the above is what the airlines want, it seems fairly unlikely that’s actually going to happen. During a press conference yesterday, President Trump indicated the importance of restarting the economy, and wasn’t down for the limbo we’re currently in lasting much longer:

“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.”

President Trump also indicated he was likely to put less of an emphasis on social distancing at the end of the 15 day period where they hoped to slow the spread, which ends next Monday.

In light of that, it seems unlikely that now would be the time for him to shut down domestic flights.

Bottom line

While I’m not suggesting that airlines should stop operating domestic flights completely, it seems like we should see a further significant reduction in flights.

The issue is that airlines don’t want to initiate this, since the optics aren’t good while asking for government aid and negotiating with unions. Meanwhile Trump wants to restart the economy, and shutting down domestic travel won’t help with that.

At a minimum it seems like domestic frequencies should still be drastically reduced, given the lack of demand. The question is how it will get to that point…

What do you make of the current domestic flight conundrum?

Comments
  1. @Kyall+1

    There will be a “new normal”, though who knows what that’s going to look like.

  2. My sister flew between MSP and RSW twice in the last two weeks on NK and she said the flights were 100% full both ways.

    Those numbers you posted in the story yesterday about the United flights were crazy. There is no need for multiple trans con frequencies per day. Each airline could operate one morning flight and one evening flight per day and still more than satisfy the demand.

    Airlines should also try to get creative with routings, ex maybe fly BOS to EWR then on to SFO and just pick up the EWR folks on the way.

  3. Natural attrition based on demand, exacerbated by State lock down and self isolation policies will do most of it. I doubt Trump would order a complete lockdown. That would destroy the economy.

    The Australian government just announced that every worker is an essential worker and has no plans to stop the economy or close schools (limited lockdown of tourism and service industry excepted). But the individual states are imposing 14 day self isolation policies which are destroying domestic flight frequencies. In many ways, Australia is an example of what Trump wants to do.

  4. Commercial flights are pretty crucial to Amazon, Fedex, UPS, USPS, etc. There’s probably an expectation of keeping a level of service that doesn’t break down those services in a time when they’re probably all a lot more busy than usual.

  5. This would be insanity. I’m all for supporting the elderly and sick, but not if it means plunging the world into a financial depression. I’d much rather see the world lose 5% of its population as opposed to re-living a version of the 1930s……that’s not being callous, that’s just my personal opinion that is shared by billions around the globe.

    My belief is that the world will start to resume a sense a normalcy sooner rather than later. We can debate about the effectiveness of the quarentines all we want, but they won’t matter in a couple of weeks when 1/5 U.S. workers are out of a job and global commerce has ground to a standstill. No nation can support such a large percentage of its populace for very long, let alone ones that are not as developed as the West.

    I feel fortunate for my current situation and wish everyone the best during these trying times.

  6. Voldoo

    So the value of your 401K is more important to you than the lives of thousands?

    Real nice.

  7. I work at any ULCC. Up until last week, our flights to and from Florida were full. No one believed me when I said people were still headed to the beach to go on Spring Break. Until they saw the pictures on the news. We’ve seen very few cancelations at our airline this week, even though some of our flights are operating with as little as 2 passengers. On average I’ve had about 12 people on each segment this trip. Remember, ULCC’s don’t operate hub and spoke models, so they don’t have the liberty to cancel flights as easily as mainlines, because the planes have to end up somewhere at the end of the day, possibly for a flight with a much higher passenger load.

  8. @Voldoo

    “I’d much rather see the world lose 5% of its population as opposed to re-living a version of the 1930s……that’s not being callous, that’s just my personal opinion that is shared by billions around the globe.”

    It may be your personal opinion, but it is callous as well (the two are not mutually incompatible). Do you have any evidence that your opinion is shared by billions or does merely asserting that make you feel better?

  9. @Voldoo – So far, the US is showing over 50% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in the 20-44 year old range. This is NOT just an elderly person’s disease.

    Nobody wants to intentionally plunge the US into depression. Unfortunately, it appears that its likely to occur no matter what we do. If we put the US back to work too early, we seriously risk increased transmission to where we’re making the problem worse. This is what’s now happening in Hong Kong and they’re having to take stricter measures, since they let their guard down too early. Its also my fear of what will likely happen in China with them letting up too soon. With 50%+ of those infected showing no symptoms, how are we to know who is transmitting and who isn’t?

    We’re going to have to shutdown the economy and make difficult decisions for the next few months to flatten the curve and reduce the number of cases significantly. Otherwise, this will continue to spiral out of control.

  10. My suggestion would be that the government allow airlines to coordinate schedules temporarily to keep a minimal air transportation network in place, mainly to provide cargo capacity that can’t be met through cargo fleets and for the few people who need to travel for family emergencies or on epidemic-related business.

    We may need to also consider shutting down secondary airports in major metropolitan areas to reduce the need for workers to be exposed to travelers.

  11. Regarding Voldoo
    I am now elderly. I do appreciate the validity of your points. However, the USA is not China where you just say it is OK to lose thousands of people and ignore it.

    I expect things will resolve sooner rather than later. Maybe the answer is focusing on younger people going back to work first, maybe there will be a drug regimen that will make things less dangerous.
    The people that are locked at home should pay their own way. This is why people should have some savings.

    @ Tom,
    Voldoo has a point. It is not his 401, it is the fear of a repeat of the Great Depression.

  12. @donato, shouldn’t corporations have money saved for such emergencies too? Or is it just individuals? Imagine if all companies had to have enough cash on hand to last 6 months, imagine how much different this would look. No one would be looking for handouts, we would all just stay home for xx days and then this would all be over

  13. Off topic: Please add a “top of the page” button. I enjoy reading the comments but it takes forever to go back to the top of the blog to click on the next article.

  14. I truly didn’t mean to hit a nerve with people; I care for the sick an edlerly like all of you. I have family members that are in the high-risk category, obviously I do not want them to die.

    @SFO Flyer: let’s not be mis-leading here, the data on this virus is abundantly clear. Younger, healthier individuals are at a significantly lower risk of experiencing serious symptoms let alone actually dying.

    Let this is the group of people (who have limited accumulated wealth) we are asking to blindly sacrifice their livelihoods and freedoms for an unspecified amount of time in what’s been a very weak attempt to contain the spread of this disease. We do not know if our efforts will be successful. We DO know that continuing down the path we are on will plunge the world into an economic depression, the last of which led to a world war that killed more people than any pandemic ever has.

    Death is tragic, but life with not hopes of economic growth or free is even worse. This is about so much more than the value of my 401k which frankly I couldn’t care less about right now.

  15. @donato, shouldn’t corporations have money saved for such emergencies too?

    This isn’t at all realistic. Investors invest capital into companies to make a ROI; when they entrust their capital to a corporation, they expect their money to be used more efficiently than just being stuffed in a savings account. From a shareholder view, excess cash should be used to invest in R&D, paying dividends, etc. Their “emergency” fund is being able to raise capital in times of crisis. Companies live in the edge financially; their shareholders demand them to.

  16. @Voldoo – Do you follow the daily statistics on the number of new cases globally and by US state, like I do? I happen to live in California, which now has one of the highest rates of cases. BUT, we are only the canary in the coal mine. It IS spreading rapidly in all 50 states and the longer Trump and the Republican governors pretend that this is an over-reaction, it WILL get a lot worse. FoxNews should be criminally negligent for spreading false hope among the population. It is NOT safe to carry on business as normal.

    I wish it were the case but until we have the cases under control and can safely/effectively isolate those that are at high risk AND are carriers of the disease (like you’re seeing in South Korea), we CANNOT operate business as usual.

  17. @SFO Flyer: “So far, the US is showing over 50% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are in the 20-44 year old range.”First of all where did you get those numbers? Second, there was a case in Brazil of a celebrity wedding where more than 150 guests got the virus. The wedding was 2 weeks ago. ZERO fatalities. Some got a strong cold, most felt a very mild cold. Shutting down the US is what Russia and China wanted. I agree that we should all be cautious but live our lives. Wash your hands all the time, do not sneeze on others, cover your cough,….. I learned all those when I was 2 years old from my parents. There is nothing new there.

  18. As others have said, let the airlines borrow at low rates using their own assets as collateral. None of this bailout crap.

  19. @ORD Flyer: I saw exactly the same two weeks ago flying out of MSP and back. All flights had standby passengers that were not cleared. United is just a plain bad airline and nobody wants to fly them. Just let them disappear.

  20. “I’d much rather see the world lose 5% of its population as opposed to re-living a version of the 1930s……that’s not being callous, that’s just my personal opinion that is shared by billions around the globe.”

    I’m all for this plan, but only if Voldoo is among the 5% sacrificed.

  21. @Voldoo – Do you follow the daily statistics on the number of new cases globally and by US state, like I do?

    Yes, I have been….the information is easily and readily available from numerous sources. The fatality rate for those under 60 years old is less than 2%. It’s likely much lower due to the fact that actual cases are less than reported due to lack of testing kits. I live in CA as well (my wife and I are currently quarantined in Orange County).

    Nobody is saying that the disease is not serious or that we should be ok with people dying. I’m not even saying that it’s “safe” to go on as usual (whatever that means). What I’m saying is that business SHOULD be allowed to go on as usual and that those who want to participate in our economic system should be allowed to, and those that choose not to can stay in their homes.

  22. At this point the Govt should step in as a part of a bailout and take temporary control as a sort of re-regulation of the industry that will last over the period of the crisis. They can assign essential routes that are split up between carriers for the sole function of moving necessary travelers (healthcare, first responders, experts, etc). With this they will keep a level of air traffic running that is needed, keep some of the operations up for airlines to avoid complete shutdowns, and not have absurd competition on routes right now where everyone is flying at 12% capacity. It will also allow for fewer air traffic controllers which we can see already is going to be a hot bed of outbreaks given the close quarters they work in and exchanged stations and computers.

  23. flying empty planes is costly for airlines and bad for the environment. We don’t need over a dozen flights per day in some city pairs, when most flights are under 20% full

    We most certainly do need planes to continue flying empty. Our economy cannot afford to stall. If I run out of TP I will use WSJ.

    Shame on the democrats for trying to push the new green deal and stalling congress. You want the green deal you have to win the presidency. Your demands have nothing to do with corona virus. Don’t try to ruin America because you hate a Trump.

  24. @Voldoo – Do you follow the daily statistics on the number of new cases globally and by US state, like I do? I happen to live in California, which now has one of the highest rates of cases.

    Yes….this information is easily and readiy available. Fatality rates world-wide for individuals under 60 years old are less than 1%. It’s probably even lower considering actual cases of COVID-19 are likely less than what’s been reported due to lack of available testing kits. You think we should shut down the world over this?

  25. Absolutely not. It’s more likely the Federal government is going to stop the states and force them open. Supremacy clause and all that. Feds could break the quarantine and force a return to normalcy. Trump seems to be angling towards it, backed by Texas who are adamant about not shutting things down.

  26. @Santastico – Keep toting your mainstream media conspiracy theory while the numbers end up overwhelming your locality. As for me, I choose to listen to doctors, scientists and other medical experts. All of them are strongly advising we take these additional precautions to prevent the oncoming health crisis. I’ll stay away from others where possible and will call my local police department when I see people violating the shelter at home ordinance.

    Keep listening to Trump and pretend everything is ok. It’ll be a future case study on darwinism.

  27. @Aaron “I’m all for this plan, but only if Voldoo is among the 5% sacrificed.”

    Perhaps you will get your wish………I certainly won’t ask you to stay inside and stop earning a living for yourself so that I can stay alive.

  28. @ Voldoo — No scientist or economist has suggested that a sudden and dramatic spike in cases is beneficial in either limiting the impacts of the disease, or in limiting the impacts to the economy. Humans are the economy, ultimately, and it’s not like anyone ill from COVID-19 gets Thanos-snapped out of existence — there is a lot that happens before that death number (which would be far higher than 5% in that scenario, as people would unnecessarily die).

    For a more scientific perspective, I’d suggest looking at the data from Iceland, which is the most complete at this point, and paints a more complete demographic picture: https://www.covid.is/data

  29. @Tiffany – “No scientist or economist has suggested that a sudden and dramatic spike in cases is beneficial in either limiting the impacts of the disease or in limiting the impacts to the economy”

    Nor would they…..that would be an insane claim to make. I’m simply suggesting that a return to normal commerce would be less catastrophic (economically speaking) than the health crisis we are trying to avoid.

    Thank you for sending me the link the Iceland data; there is lot’s of good information there regarding number of cases, quarantines, etc. The data failed to mention anywhere though that the county has only experienced 1 fatalaty. 1…….out of over 500 cases.

  30. Lots of atheists or quasi-atheists in this world (USA / Europe at least). Where are they now with their Darwin Awards / Natural Selection?

    Those who die / suffer more – are those who haven’t learned to take care of themselves. Those who collectively don’t care about the environment, one iota.

    Obese/diabetic/etc.. (Comorbidites – fancy word) are more susceptible. Those who live with high AQI and/or smoke/vape/etc… have weaker lungs (Get an air purifer?). Those who ignore / mock those who talk about the dangers of various EMF. And I could go on and on….. Should I pay for their individual / collective – ignorance / pride / greed (in some cases)?

    – Not an Atheist nor Religious…something in between.

    PS: And those who haven’t studied death, are more fearful of it….go easy on eating CHICKEN and TURKEY meat…

  31. @ Santastico — I think SFO Flyer’s numbers may be from New York; they are seeing a tremendous number of young and otherwise healthy people needing to be hospitalized.

    And a wedding two weeks ago isn’t enough time (although I haven’t heard about this particular wedding, and couldn’t find any information on the first three pages of Google about it). Even if all guests were tested immediately, and there were 150 confirmed cases, two weeks is just about enough time for some of those infected to start showing symptoms, and a few to need hospitalization. Maybe an outlier number of deaths, but with functioning medical systems it’s still probably a week or two before there are fatalities from that event.

    The more concerning part is that if there were a wedding where 150 people were known positives, and those 150 people didn’t immediately go into quarantine, they would have each infected three people in just a few days (so now there are 450 people infected). If those 450 didn’t immediately go into quarantine (and why would they if it’s not required? They may feel fine.), they would infect another 1350 in the first few days, potentially before they even show symptoms. And they would infect another 4050. And they would infect 12,150. All in less than a week.

    So not even a week after this theoretical wedding, we have 16,800 people infected, and hopefully we can use the global average numbers for hospitalization rates (15%), not the New York and Italy numbers, but that’s still 2,520 people needing intensive care within three weeks of exposure. And 840 dead within a month.

    The long incubation time combined with the high infection rate is fundamentally why we can’t just “live our lives” and hope for the best. The only tool we have to fight this right now is to keep people from being infected, and since you can be contagious without realizing it — shutting it all down is realistically the fastest and least economically harmful way through this.

  32. @ Voldoo — “I’m simply suggesting that a return to normal commerce would be less catastrophic (economically speaking) than the health crisis we are trying to avoid.”

    And the opposite of that is my point. This thing is here, the economic consequences are going to be dire, full stop. But there is no data to suggest that an attempt to a return to normal commerce improves the situation; everything I’ve seen suggests the opposite, that closing everything down, as uncomfortable as it may be, is actually the fastest way to break both the spread of the disease and the economic decline.

    And yep, that’s part of what makes the Iceland data interesting. They have a much healthier population (on average) than China, Italy, or the U.S., and they’ve been very aggressive with testing and quarantining, so gives us a sense of what a “successful” outcome could look like.

  33. Speaking of AA…

    Wise words from Oprah:

    “Stedman did not arrive from Chicago until Thursday, he had been speaking in St. Louis…he’d been on planes, so Stedman is like ‘What’s the procedure for coming home?’ ‘The procedure is… you ain’t coming and sleeping in my bed!’” Winfrey explained.

    She continued, “Social distancing does not mean you go and sleep in the same bed with the person! When you just got off American Airlines!”

  34. You can’t shut down all domestic flights. It’s called cargo! And cargo cannot stop being transported. Domestic airline flights earn a lot of the income from cargo. Passengers are only part of the reason they fly.

  35. @Santastico – China and Russia wanted the US to shut down? Not sure what their desires have anything to do with this, unless you’re suggesting they concocted this virus together to harm the US. Beyond that, the statement makes little sense that (1) China also shut down their economy to (seemingly successfully) fight the virus and (2) China’s economy is largely depending on exports to the US and other developed countries, so until those economies are back online China’s economy will suffer.

    The global economy is incredibly interconnected. For the most part, when the US suffers, so does China, and vice versa.

  36. “I certainly won’t ask you to stay inside and stop earning a living for yourself so that I can stay alive.”

    You don’t need to ask me, unlike you, I have common sense and actually listen to credible experts and scientists.

  37. @Tiffany: If you Google in English you won’t get anything. Here is one of the many links in Portuguese for the wedding. If you search for the name of the socialite you will get well over 3 pages about her wedding on Google.
    https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/app/noticia/brasil/2020/03/12/interna-brasil,833770/casamento-da-irma-de-gabriela-pugliesi-foco-do-coronavirus.shtml

    BTW, before you translate the article and say the article says about only 14 people infected (the article is from March 12th) I know for a fact that there is way more than that since I have family members and close friends that were infected in that wedding and they know their friends that got infected. ZERO casualties so far. The wedding was on March 7th so 17 days ago. Also, there is a trend for socialites to avoid bad media so you won’t find much more about it on today’s news.

    Also, since I see you like numbers, take a look at this article on today’s WSJ about Italy. https://www.wsj.com/articles/family-is-italys-great-strength-coronavirus-made-it-deadly-11585058566?mod=hp_lead_pos10
    You may need a subscription to read it but in summary, Italy has confirmed 64,000 deaths from coronavirus, NONE on people under 20 years old. 90% of the deaths are on people over 60 years old.

  38. I am 110% with Voldoo on this. At some point, whether we like it or not, Covid-19 will go through all populations. We are postponing the inevitable, doesn’t matter if a vaccine is available OR NOT! We can shut down entirely now, destroy the economy, put people in a worse position with medical coverage (no jobs), etc, feel better that we dodge the bullet in June/July – and then WHAM – it comes back around in Sept/Oct. Want precedent – see flu of 1918 folks!

    So lets get back to normal, muscle up now, and develop our natural immunity to this thing. I could totally be wrong here, and I have not done my research – but why does it feel like the states that are shutting down are mostly Democratic governors (as of 2 days ago, 16 states shut down, 13 of them Democratic governers, 2 Republican, 1 wishy-washy). Conspiracy?…

  39. @MikeL1986: You are correct.

    Confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Italy by group age
    0-9 0 0%
    10-19 0 0%
    20-29 0 0%
    30-39 12 0%
    40-49 41 1%
    50-59. 168 3%
    60-69 541 11%
    70-79. 1,768 35%
    80-89. 2,023 40%
    90+ 465 9%
    TOTAL 5,018 100%

  40. If you want comprehensive data, just look to South Korea, who have been doing by far the most comprehensive testing, Iceland with a population of 300k and an island, is a very poor comparison, even though the numbers back up the argument. Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, oldest in Europe, with 25% of the country 60+ years old. Coupled with a culture of smoking, (see lung/cardiovascular issues), poor government health system 2.2 beds per 1000 people, a direct link to Wuhan, where testing was probably done way too late, you would get a very bad outcome. And even still the numbers are coming in more and more than the fatality rate is still <2%. And look at other statistics from other posters you can see where the deaths are coming from, not to mention most people dying <60 a majority of them already had health issues.

  41. People fail to understand the death rate from Covid19 and other illnesses will go up once the hospitals are crowded. The reason Iceland, Singapore and other countries with relatively death rate have achieved what they have is because the hospitals are not overrun yet. If the curve isn’t flattened, and the ICU unites get crowded (think Italy), death rates will soar, and people will die from other conditions that otherwise would have been salvageable. Because most of the world was complacent, we are where we are now. It may be better to shut down for 3-4 weeks to get this wave under control then gradually ease restrictions while putting social distancing measures in place to give enough time to the hospitals

  42. @Voodoo while writing off 5% of the population could make sense on its face not doing everything possible for them will be the end of the U.S.A. Those 5% will be close to every single person in this country and failure to fight for them will result in a loss of faith in this country heretofore unseen. In the next crisis the remainder will think will I be the one written off. The only logical endpoint of that chain is anarchy. The economic sacrifice is actually a strategic investment.

  43. @MrObvious – it’s fairly obvious why some governors are shutting down and others aren’t: it’s because some governors care about their citizens while others only care about what a foul mouthed yam thinks of them.

  44. @Mr. Obvious – the only “conspiracy” is that too many of the Republican governors are idiots (cue Oklahoma, or the Texas Lt. Gov) and who are just sucking up to the Cheeto.

    At least you have smarter, less sycophantic ones like DeWine and Hogan out there.

  45. My state = 5.8 million people
    Covid test (positive) = 400 / (negative) 7,000
    Covid deaths = 5
    What do we do? Shut it down and shelter in place!!!

    Imagine if mainstream media begins to present the daily totals of those who contract the flu, and those that die from it, each and every day. Pandamonium would occur. Should we take measures? – sure. Should we shut down commerce and shelter in place like prairie dogs? – No way. You can run and hide now, but this will be back. No vaccine is going to change this. Quit this over reaction and let’s get back to work and back traveling again!

  46. @ Mr. Obvious — Yes, a vaccine would change this. And the flu numbers would be 1/10th of COVID-19.

    Please educate yourself on this disease, the infection rates, and the science-based estimates and impacts before minimizing this further. Here are some resources to get you started: https://onemileatatime.com/covid-19/

  47. I have to say, only in America would you decide to let the elderly die off so you can go to work. The only nation that truly has no respect for the family or it’s elders. Please explain to me your plan to cover those that get sick since most of the country has no or limited health insurance. Only a guess here but I would guess the private coverage won’t make good on those getting sick enough for long term hospitalization either. Once you start to see the spikes, your hospitals and systems will buckle. And just because the elderly die at a higher rate, it doesn’t mean passing this to younger people is a great option. The greed of America is why the rest of the world is mocking the idiot-in-chief. You have no plan to deal with it so you say kill off our grandparents so I can make a buck. Orange County makes total sense with that true blue Republican thought process. Please leave the “who lives and dies” decision to the doctors at the appropriate time. You simply aren’t qualified.

  48. To those talking about packed NK flights MSP to Florida

    We were scheduled to fly MSP to MCO on Saturday
    Flight was initially about 3/4 sold a few weeks ago

    7 days prior, 1/2 sold. (I know because we got better seats)

    3 days prior, they sent us texts to change our flight
    We canceled flight

    1 day prior, they combined 3 flights into one (I was still getting text updates)
    I was at airport on day of departure (wasn’t flying)

    One MSP parking garage has 4500 to 5000 spaces over 5 floors
    So about 1k spaces per floor

    We parked on most popular floor
    There were 7 cars total. (I have a picture)

    Everything changed last week

  49. YES , FACTS MATTER.
    DEATH THIS YEAR.
    New Corona Virus 18 609
    Influenza 112 235
    Aids/HIV 388 155
    Road kill 311 696
    Alcohol related death 577 512
    Cigarette rel.death 1 154 289
    Just some numbers … ONLY one is hyped in the media , used by goverments to close borders , lock in people , restrict their movements by law , push the “green” ideas…
    Still I agree , we should avoid spreading this and any virus ,minimize social contacts , wash our hands often with soap and water- more effective than sanitizers-use face masks , once we feel the slightest symptoms of an infection incl. common cold to protect others /our country/ the world
    Stay healthy , enjoy Your life
    Btw these numbers are from worldometer-statistic site

  50. Lol… these people want to argue numbers… here’s one, Get a chinese high speed rail system. It’s fatality rate is less than aviation with american Made things in the past decade.
    American aviation is a matter of national security just like the interstate system is. We’re too reliant to cars and airplane. We need a third method of transportation so that country won’t be crippled.

  51. @ charlie — Yep, because it is incredibly contagious (and as many as half of people who have it don’t know/have no symptoms and so spread the virus unknowingly, plus there is neither a vaccine nor a treatment (unlike everything else you listed), and 15% of those who catch it, die.

    If 15% of people who interacted with an automobile died each year, we’d sure as shit be making aggressive changes.

    The only effective strategy for this at present is Test, Trace, Isolate — the U.S. screwed up the ability to Test, so we can’t do the Trace bit either. All that is left is Isolate, and since we can’t filter out who should isolate (like S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Iceland, and some of the Italian villages did), we all have to Isolate. Call your reps to demand accountability for the chain of events that lead here, but shouting that it isn’t a big deal isn’t helpful or accurate.

  52. I know there is some disagreement as to the validity and/or accuracy of science in the U.S. Hopefully we can all still agree on the validity of math.

    Early on the WHO estimated that 40-70% of the world population will ultimately be infected by COVID-19. This a reasonable assumption considering this virus a) is foreign to our species meaning we have no natural immunity to it b) is not hampered by the presence of a fairly widely used vaccine against it (unlike the flu) c) has a fairly long incubation period d) can be transmitted before symptoms arise e) can be transmitted by a disproportionately large population of asymptomatic infected individuals.

    Now lets get to the math, I will even grant you a death rate of 1% though that has yet to be established.

    1% of 40% of 327 million (population of US) = 0.01 x 0.40 x 327,000,000 is 1,308,000 people dead

    1% of 70% of 327 million (population of US) = 0.01 x 0.70 x 327,000,000 is 2,289,000 people dead

    Throwing 50k flu deaths/yr around as a comparison is invalid in this context.

    Pretending that those kinds of mortality rates would not have a negative effect on the economy is misguided. Pretending that those kinds of mortality rates would not cause brainpower losses in key areas of the economy is misguided.

    We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is NO good outcome. The chance to nip this in the bud was lost in January and February. I will let you research what was going on back then on your own.

    Our only hope is to slow this down enough to develop effective treatments and hopefully a vaccine.

    Think for yourselves once in a while.

  53. Things will go back to normal, maybe in weeks or at most a couple of years. Load factors may be low, but there is that thing called a belly. This is where cargo goes, you know masks, ppe, spare parts etc. The medical crisis that may come needs airlines to move people (news flash kids machines break and need repair and new machines need someone to install them) machines and parts, so you need flights to get the service people and parts around. I am sure for every person thinking we need to ban domestic flights, there will be 10 people whining that something wasn’t fixed or unavailable

  54. Another item to mention as to why the airlines continue to fly may be due to the value of keeping their slots/gates at airports. Voluntarily stopping all flight operations may constitute a forfeiture of the slot at the airport and an airline completely loses the slot. A government ban on flying would give the airlines a legitimate excuse to keep the slot.

  55. Without disputing ANY of the epidemiology, and stipulating everything about the science of flattening the curve… the worry is very, very real that we are committing economic suicide, plain and simple, with the level of open-ended draconian lockdowns of billions of people based on a highly noble, but narrow purpose (suppressing this specific virus). And that there are mounting irreversible economic disasters happening every day which will cause actual, literal death and violence from coming economic depression and despair. Which could kill many millions of people over the next few years, across a mind-numbing array of knock-on effects. Savage economic collapse is how wars start.

    The question few people are willing to grapple with, in flippantly calling people “idiots” or “anti-science” is: are we recognizing at all that a line DOES exist, somewhere, where continued self-inflicted economic destruction is no longer worth the potential lives saved from not catching the virus? And I mean in worth it LIVES, not money. It’s so short-sighted to think the world under endless lockdown won’t explode with hunger, non-viral sickness, depression, suicide, crime, etc.

    The alternative is not “do nothing and sacrifice millions”, either. It’s an incredibly complex problem, and I don’t have an answer. We’re probably right to be under lockdown right now, for a few weeks. I think that keeps us firmly on the right side of the balance, even if it causes high unemployment and a recession. But lockdown for months, or a year, or 18 months (!!!) as some undoubtedly intelligent British researchers propose? I can’t imagine the kind of hellish world that would result from trying to impose or maintain such a world-ending lockdown. The reduced deaths from coronavirus after 18 months of a mostly-unemployed world would be vastly outnumbered by the deaths from ensuing violence and collapse of Soviet. It simply can’t happen.

  56. Wow, all I can say is wow with a lot of these comments. A lot of ignorance, denial, callousness.

    If you social distance, pretty much shut things down, bridge the gap with aid (which sadly many countries can’t do however which is a problem) then the virus could be mostly eliminated in 8-12 weeks according to experts. Europe, Japan, China, Singapore, and USA and Canada can easily do this. Limit travel from the other countries and provide aid (food, etc) to help those countries. Get a vaccine, possible treatments, and end it until the next mutated destructive virus comes calling.

    Otherwise a 1% death rate will lead to 3m fewer Americans and 60m globally. That will hurt global GDP.

  57. Getting back to the original question:

    Obviously sufficient air traffic should be maintained to provide air freight / mail service. If the passenger loads are not sufficient to support this (they aren’t), this minimum service should be financially subsidized by the govt.

    Ideally the airlines would coordinate their schedules to provide non-duplicative schedules between major population centers. Frequency should not be curtailed so significantly that load factors exceed 50 % (above that the flights themselves become potential sites for spread of infection).

    Passengers NEED to be at least screened for fever at airport entrances, with febrile passengers denied entry. This has been done in many areas in Asia for over a decade.

    Airlines should be fogging planes between every flight. (again look to Asia, South Korea in particular)

    Flight attendants, gate agents, etc should be wearing masks and gloves.

    Airport employees should be required to practice social distancing when their work allows (they aren’t).

  58. “Please educate yourself on this disease, the infection rates, and the science-based estimates and impacts before minimizing this further.”

    Physician heal thyself!

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