Object of the Week is a column exploring the objects a culture obsesses over and what that reveals about us.
A year deep into a deadly pandemic that crippled the travel industry — U.S. passenger traffic is down by half — does not sound like the best time for a startup airline to take delivery of 60 brand-new planes.
But maybe that assumption is wrong. Maybe, in fact, a few dozen crisp new jets, painted in snazzy metallic blues, are a perfect physical symbol for a category that seems, surprisingly, poised to take off again.
Where Are They Now is a column that revisits once-popular companies and brands that have seemingly disappeared.
Weirder than Sharper Image, more upscale than Lillian Vernon, the loopy bazaar of SkyMall once entertained bored airplane travelers with items like pierogi Christmas ornaments, a thousand-dollar flying-saucer “Serenity Cat Pod,” and unexpected lawn statues like an extremely chill gargoyle.
At the turn of the millennium, the catalog reached millions of travelers — with airlines getting either a cut of revenues or a monthly fee to place it in seatback pockets — and totaled annual revenues over $80 million. Its first website went…
With steady revenue flowing in from frequent business travel, baggage fees, and cheap seats, airlines were flying high last year, wrote Byrne Hobart in Marker. But as business travel came to an absolute dead standstill and with consumers experiencing justifiable demand shock for the better part of the year, airlines continue to face an uphill battle with travel analysts and executives saying a full recovery won’t occur until at least 2024. Last week, Delta reported it lost a whopping $5.4 billion in Q3 with revenue down 75% from last year.
More than six months after the World Health Organization first declared Covid-19 a pandemic, airlines are barely limping along. The TSA’s daily passenger count tracker currently shows that air travel is down about a staggering 70% from last year. Demand for air travel is better than it was during the depths of the crisis in mid-April, when travel was down 95%, but it’s still far from a level that would keep airlines operating sustainably. Thanks to the federal government, airlines received a $25 billion bailout in April, which allowed them to keep employees on staff at current pay rates through…
Pop business for the intelligent reader. A publication from Medium.