All indications are that when the post-COVID travel boom takes place, that it will be Low Cost Carriers (LCC) that will lead the way.
Full Service Carriers (FSC) and legacy carriers will eventually figure out how to prosper in the post-COVID world, but the LCCs will be ahead of them. It will be a volatile and interesting business background as the airline industry restructures for the “new world” of travel.
LCC are in a good position for a number of reasons. By nature they are frugal and used to working in a lean manner. It also appears that domestic travel will rebound (is rebounding) faster than international travel. LCC specialize in affordable domestic travel for the most part.
FSC and legacy carriers generally have long-haul international routes. ( Although there is a long-haul LCC model, current COVID and future post-COVID conditions will not favor them initially, and they will basically be in the same situation as the legacy carriers).
Customer base is also different for LCC – they favor leisure travelers. The legacy carriers and flag carriers cater to the business traveller. Until the pandemic is considered over by most countries, long-haul travel with high seat occupancy will remain a thing of the past.
All carriers have one favorable wind behind them, and that is a massive worldwide pent up demand for private and commercial travel. When this demand is allowed to play itself out, not just the airline industry, but the tourist and hospitality industries as well will be collateral benefactors in a worldwide travel and spending frenzy.
So for the industry and its players large and small, it is not wait and see, or wait and pray; boom times will surely come, and it will be those organizations that have restructured, adapted, and survived that will reap the greatest benefits.