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The CEO of aircraft maker Boeing sees a bumpy future for the airline industry, predicting a major carrier will not survive as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
David Calhoun also said the industry will likely struggle for the next three to five years because fears about the disease will keep a lot of the flying public off planes.
In comments broadcast Tuesday during an interview with NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie, Calhoun said that when the stimulus package provided by the recent CARES Act runs out in September, one carrier is likely to go out of business, with thousands of people losing their jobs lose due to lack of air travel. He described the current situation as "apocalyptic."
According to The Hill, Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe clarified that Calhoun expressed uncertainty about the airline industry as a whole and was not offering comment on a specific company.
Calhoun said that the sector needs to focus on using its energies to realign with customer priorities, such as safety.
Flight reservations have slowly increased as lockdown orders gradually lift around the United States. Several safety precautions, such as face masks, spaced seating and recycled air in the cabins, are being implemented to ensure the health of both travelers and employees. The air recycling systems are specifically designed to prevent the spread of airborne diseases, Calhoun said.
Health and safety measures will also play a significant role in the industry's ability to combat slow growth rates. According to Calhoun, airlines will likely be returning to 50% capacity only at the end of the year.
Calhoun, however, remains optimistic.
"As long as we can demonstrate the safety of our experience, we believe we can return to a growth rate similar to the past," he said.