Industry experts are warning about the losses at all levels in the industry, with small, low-cost airlines and many in the cruise industry unlikely to survive.
With utmost caution, slowly, carefully and nervously watched, the process of relieving lockdown restrictions has started country by country in Europe, each at its own pace and according to its own approach as the continent marks a turning point in its coronavirus crisis.
As countries across the continent report further declines in new Covid-19 cases, governments are lifting some prohibitions, partially opening schools and permitting the reopening of some shops and public areas.
Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Iceland, where new infections have mostly plateaued, are among the first wave of countries easing their most severe restrictions, allowing partial returns to work and announcing other measures to help resuscitate their economies.
The official announcements have been extremely cautious and in a number of cases severely criticized, especially relating to plans for reopening schools because, as Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said: “If we open too quickly, we risk that infections rise too sharply and then we have to close down again.”
That warning also came from Ursula Von Der Leyen, the European Commission head who explained that life cannot return to full normality before a vaccine has been developed.
As for traveling, the European Commission has been very clear: "I'd advise everyone to wait before making holiday plans," Von der Leyen told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. "At the moment, no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August."
The need for caution and the step-by-step reopening plans are what the various countries have in common. While there’s consensus that societies should reopen segment-by-segment, governments cannot agree about which age groups or industries should be sent back first, which ones afterwards and when.
As countries unveil their “phase two” plans, it’s not the similarities in their approaches that prevail but their differences. “As Italy opens bookshops, stationers and children’s clothes shops, Spanish shops can expect to remain shut until April 26,” reports online news site The Wire. “While Spain’s factory staff returned to work on Monday, Italy’s factories (barring pharmaceutical and food-processing plants) are still closed. It is mandatory to wear masks outside the home in the Czech Republic, but not in Denmark.”