The pandemic has sent airline revenue plummeting, and airlines are expecting it to take years before travel trends begin to normalize. Some, including Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, have said they believe business travel might be forever replaced by Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) meetings and other tech.
In this Motley Fool Live segment, recorded Thursday, Nov. 19, Motley Fool contributor Lou Whiteman tells "Industry Focus" host Nick Sciple why he's skeptical about predictions that the future will look very different than today.
Nick Sciple: Right. When we talked about what this recovery is going to look like, there was a quote that was going around from Bill Gates on Tuesday, this is after the vaccine news had come down, where he said he thinks in a post coronavirus world that business travel will be down 50% or more. Obviously, business travel is very significant for airlines. What do you make of this quote, should airlines be concerned about a decline in business travel going forward?
Lou Whiteman: I am, by my nature, skeptical about almost all of these predictions that nothing will come back. I don't think that that's human nature. I'm sure there will be changes. I mean, we'll just counter that with, again, a couple of very biased people, but two airline CEOs. Southwest (NYSE:LUV) CEO, Gary Kelly, went on CNBC this morning and said, my opinion is this too shall pass, just like 9/11. Everyone said the world was going to change, people aren't going to fly, they were wrong. Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL), was talking about the earnings call. The first time someone loses a sale that they tried to do on a Zoom call, they'll be buying an airplane ticket the next day.
I mean, I don't want to be too smug, I think things will change, but I do think we will see a return to business, maybe we lose some business travel, but maybe if people are working remotely, they need to fly to check in with headquarters where they -- you know. So, there could be shifts, there could be changes, but I believe Gates is off, I don't think we're going to see a 50% decline long-term.