An Australian pilot is going viral after he called on people to “buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper” to keep the flailing airline industry afloat.
Chris Pohl, a senior A350 training captain with Virgin Atlantic, uploaded a picture to his Instagram account of himself with a sign bearing the message.
In order to “get the world flying again”, the pilot said people should book flights with the same frenzied enthusiasm that fuelled the toilet paper panic-buying at the start of the pandemic.
“Please RE-POST and pass this message to everyone you know, because it’s REAL,” he said.
“We need the world to start booking tickets, which will allow airlines to fill aircraft and get us all flying again.
“The only thing holding us back, is you; our loyal customers/passengers, without you, we’re grounded. Let’s get the world flying again.”
Mr Pohl, who lives in France, said he took inspiration for the sign from the viral account @dudewithsign and other Insta-famous pilot, Charlotte Dielman, who has been using cardboard signs to rally support for the airline industry during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Pohl’s gesture attracted close to 4500 likes and sparked the hashtag #buyairlineticketslikeyouboughttoiletpaper.
The airline industry has been in crisis during the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns and travel bans driving an unprecedented downturn in air travel.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates the industry faced a loss of $496 billion in revenue this year, and that it may take until 2023 until long-haul travel recovered to levels seen before COVID-19 hit.
IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac told the ABC last month if it hadn’t been for government support for airlines across the world, many would already be bankrupt.
“There is a risk that some airlines would go to bankruptcy,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“So, we are relying on the support packages and the rescue plans that have been put together by governments and that have been announced by governments, with, I have to say, very supportive and open attitudes to help us.
“But without this plan, half of the airlines could be bankrupt in June, and 80 per cent could be bankrupt in July.”