The positive news regarding preliminary analysis of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could hardly have come at a more welcome time for the airline industry.
Carriers in the northern hemisphere are heading into a winter season that is likely to be bleaker than even their worst pre-pandemic nightmares could have imagined.
Despite the industry’s best efforts to encourage global cooperation on pre-flight testing standards and open borders, it remains a largely passive observer as connectivity is crushed by a patchwork of inconsistent travel restrictions.
For many airlines – particularly those reliant on international markets served with expensive widebody aircraft – the best-case scenarios for 2021 are achieving maybe half the traffic seen during 2019.
All the while, no one can say for certain that 2021 is going to be much better than 2020 in terms of the prevalence of the virus across the world.
Crucially, many in the industry are bracing for a raft of airline failures next year as months of cash burn combine with the end of various state support measures.
In that inhospitable environment, carriers have openly said that an effective vaccine is the only way for the sector to begin a confident comeback.
The first evidence of a vaccine safely protecting humans against the virus is an important step towards the industry’s wish being granted.
So while there are many reasons to be cautious about the news – particularly as the vaccine data requires much more scrutiny – it is also reasonable to feel encouraged that there might, finally, be some light at the end of the tunnel.