星宇、長榮和華航是否能度過疫情難關?| Will Starlux, EVA Air and CAL survive the pandemic?

停放著的星宇航機 Parked Starlux Airlines Planes (來自星宇航空官方臉書 From Starlux Airlines’ Facebook Page)

【看CP學英文】放眼全球,許多民航機現在都閒置停放在地面。因乘客搭乘需求暴跌,航空公司多數航班暫停,許多在航空業的工作人員也被迫放無薪假,或甚至被裁員。

Across the world, commercial planes have been parked on the ground. Airlines have suspended the majority of flights due to plummeting demand; many of those working in the aviation industry have been put on unpaid leave, or even worse, laid off permanently.

在這對航空公司及其員工充滿挑戰及不確定的時刻,我們不可避免地去思考,冠狀病毒大流行結束之後,飛行將變成什麼樣貌。這些年我們所依賴的航空公司,仍然還會存在嗎?

During these challenging and uncertain times for airline companies and their staff, it is inevitable that we ponder what flying will be like after the coronavirus pandemic is over. Would the airlines, which we have relied upon over the years, still be there?

不幸的是,事實上沒人知道確切的答案,因為有太多未知的因素是無法預測的。

Unfortunately, the truth is that no one knows for sure. There are too many factors that are simply unpredictable.

在台灣,我們國家的政府完成了驚人的工作:限制了從中國以及之後由世界各地來的病毒傳播。然而,因其他地區的衛生措施並非在台灣政府的控制之下,國際間的旅行不可能很快恢復到冠狀病毒流行前的程度。

Here in Taiwan, authorities have done a phenomenal job limiting to contain the spread of the virus. But because health measures everywhere else are under different constraints, it is unlikely that international travel will return to pre-coronavirus levels any time soon.

雖然航空業目前面臨多樣的困難,我們仍可說台灣的航空業佔據了能度過冠狀病毒全球大流行的有利位置。以下是三個理由:

Despite the various difficulties the aviation industry is facing, it can be argued that Taiwan’s aviation industry is in a good position to survive the coronavirus pandemic.  Here are three reasons why:

財務穩定|Financial Stability

首先很幸運的,台灣的三家國際航空公司:星宇、長榮和華航在今年稍早冠狀病毒來襲前,財務狀況均尚健康。

Firstly, it is fortunate that Taiwan’s three international airlines, Starlux, EVA, and China Airlines, were in a healthy financial situation before the coronavirus hit early this year.

長榮航空和中華航空已經有效率地營運多年、保留足夠的現金。而星宇航空雖然在冠狀病毒來襲前才開始營運,但從其投資者、管理,甚至其僱員等處也獲得強力的財務支持。

EVA Air and China Airlines have been operating relatively efficiently for years and retain sufficient cash. Starlux Airlines, despite only commencing operations right before coronavirus hit, also has strong financial support from its investors, management, and even its own employees.

適應性|Adaptability

再者,這幾家航空公司自己以有創意的方式應對現在的狀況,並以變通的方式獲得收入。

Contrary to all expectations, the airlines themselves have responded in creative ways to adapt to the current situation, and have turned to alternative ways to earn revenue.

台灣兩大航空集團,長榮航空與中華航空,轉而將營運集中在需求急劇攀升的國內及貨運航班。例如,他們部署大型國際線噴射機來營運到澎湖僅40分鐘航程的國內線,使消費者及航空公司本身兩者均獲益。

Taiwan’s two largest airline groups, EVA and CAL, have focused their operations on domestic and cargo flights, where demand is surging. For example, they have deployed large international jets to operate short 40-minute domestic flights to Penghu, benefitting both customers and the airline themselves.

另一方面,星宇航空妥善利用了它的優勢:擁有眾多支持其精品航空創始的航空迷,各項商品以及星宇品牌的產品均熱銷。最近,星宇甚至將它熱門到令人難以置信的線上商店,擴展成位於公司總部的實體商店。

Starlux Airlines, on the other hand, has taken full advantage of the luxury startup airline’s fan base to sell merchandise and other Starlux-branded products. Recently, Starlux even expanded its incredibly popular online store to a physical location at the company’s headquarters.

政府金援|Government support

然而,即使長期來說這些航空公司自身會難以維持,他們仍有政府在背後支持。例如,台灣政府保證幫助台灣運輸業者,若有需要時可獲得高達五百億台幣的貸款。

But even if the airlines cannot sustain themselves in the long term, the airlines appear to have the government’s backing. For example, the government has pledged to help Taiwan’s carriers obtain loans of up to NT$50 billion if needed.

這種政府支持的現象,顯示政府能察覺到台灣的航空公司帶給國家的商業、觀光和餐旅業的利益。因此,當台灣航空公司面臨大環境經濟困境時,政府將進一步進行其他形式的協助。

Such signs of government support suggest that the government is aware of the benefits that Taiwan’s airlines bring to the nation’s business, tourism and hospitality sectors. Therefore, in an event that a Taiwanese airline is at risk of collapsing, the government would likely step in with other forms of assistance.