Humble advice to industry revenue managers facing a challenging future, from an airline executive who managed through 9/11. Aware of the delays between my writing this article today, and the publication of this piece, I just want to level set where we stand as I am writing today (March 13, 2020). In the last two weeks:
• Confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. have risen from 89 to over 1,600. Due to delays in testing, experts and government officials both indicate that the true number of the cases here in the U.S. is likely to be even larger than what is being reported.
• Italy (center of the largest outbreak in Europe, at over 15,000 confirmed cases and 1,000 deaths as of today) has instituted travel restrictions within the country, and all public gatherings, including sports events have been effectively banned. All citizens in Italy are required to provide written documentation for being on the streets.
• The federal government here in the U.S. has passed an $8 billion package to assist states in dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.
• Businesses have begun to severely restrict travel.
• Conferences and events have been canceled or delayed, including major conferences like South by Southwest and Coachella.
In the last two days:
• President Trump has instituted a travel ban to and from most of Europe for foreign nationals.
• U.S. Government officials have begun to discuss policies to stimulate the economy and assist individuals affected by the outbreak.
• The NBA has suspended the regular season after a player tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL, MLB, and virtually all other major sports have followed suit and suspended play. One of golf’s major events, The Masters at Augusta National, has been postponed indefinitely.
• The NCAA has announced that all season ending tournaments, including both men’s and women’s March Madness games will be cancelled this year. Major college conferences have also cancelled their tournaments entirely.
• Disney has announced the closing of both Disneyland and Disney World resorts.
• All Broadway shows have been shut down. New York, and many other states, have instituted bans on large gatherings.
• Many colleges throughout the U.S. have begun sending students home asking them to attend classes via the internet only – no inperson classes. • The stock market saw its biggest drop since 1987.
• And finally, China has announced the lowest number of cases since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Quite frankly, the pace of change at this point in time is so great that it is difficult to anticipate what is going to happen in the next hour, never mind the next week or next month. So, it is with a great deal of humility that I take on the task of providing advice to revenue managers in our industry on how to act today and how to prepare for the future. Let me just say this – as someone who was an airline industry executive on September 11, 2001, I know it must seem hopeless, but things will turn around at some point. Furthermore, there are things that can be done to make today a little better and tomorrow a little brighter.