Hi and welcome back! We made it to May, everyone! Hope you continue to be safe and healthy.
Join Axios co-founder Mike Allen and health care reporter Bob Herman on Monday, May 4, at 12:30pm ET for a live virtual event on gene therapy and the future of disease treatment.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,640 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Whenever you're ready to fly again, be prepared: Air travel after the coronavirus will look and feel a lot different from the last time you boarded a plane.
The big picture: With passenger traffic down 95% during the height of the pandemic, airlines have all but given up on trying to salvage the lucrative summer travel season. The global industry expects to lose $314 billion this year, and airline executives say it could be two to three years before air travel recovers to pre-crisis levels.
In the meantime, pack your patience along with your face mask: Everything is going to take longer.
The big question: How much hassle will people tolerate, or will they avoid flying altogether?
What's happening: Flights are practically empty right now, making it easy to spread out, and airlines like Jet Blue and United are starting to require passengers wear face masks.
Masks and social distancing are only the beginning. In a new report, "The Rise of Sanitised Travel," consultancy SimpliFlying anticipates dozens of ways air travel might change in the coming months and years. Some examples:
The bottom line: If it seems hard to fathom, remember this: We never imagined we'd have to take off our shoes before passing through airport security, either.
Stay-at-home orders, along with fear of contracting the coronavirus, devastated the travel industry, including airlines, hotels, amusements and conventions.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The "sharing economy" — as embodied by companies like Uber, Airbnb, and WeWork — is in critical condition because of the coronavirus pandemic, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.
Why it matters: Basic assumptions about the evolution of human behavior in the digital age are melting under the pressure of COVID-19, requiring us to recalibrate how we envision the tech-enabled future.
The pandemic has brutally shut down these companies' fundamental bets.
The big picture: The sharing economy — an idealistic vision birthed and branded in the late 2000s, during the last economic crisis — held that Americans were moving beyond an ethos of acquiring and protecting stuff.
Yes, but: The companies that emerged to deploy this vision, driven by a startup ideology of "scaling fast" and enriching investors, turned it into something faster and nastier — a grinding gig economy with a flashy app front-end.
James Hackett. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The coronavirus pandemic couldn't have hit Ford Motor Co. at a worse time — midway through a restructuring effort, with several critical vehicle debuts just around the corner.
Why it matters: With its factories closed and car demand sharply lower, it's more important than ever for Ford to get the company back on track quickly so it can weather the storm.
What they're saying: "While the cash burn dynamics were in-line with what we had modeled, Ford did not appear to have a firm grasp on how it might accelerate restructuring actions to offset what could be a lower sales environment even post-lockdowns," Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note to clients.
By the numbers: Ford has $35 billion in cash after recent borrowings, enough to last through the year if there's a prolonged crisis, CFO Tim Stone said.
For the record: Ford still owes the federal government $1.5 billion for government loans it received during the last crisis in 2009.
What we're watching: It's not clear when Ford will reopen its U.S. manufacturing plants but every day that it's not producing cars means more red ink.
Traffic cop: The Paris mayor won’t let coronavirus slow her car-free ambitions (Feargus O'Sullivan — CityLab)
Air battle: The auto industry’s fight with the FCC over vehicle-to-everything communication is heating up (Andrew J. Hawkins — The Verge)
No bailout: Boeing declines government funding after raising $25 billion in a bond deal (Orion Rummler — Axios)
Refraction AI's REV-1 robot. Photo: Refraction AI
Refraction AI, a robot delivery startup in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was having trouble gaining traction before the pandemic. Now it's racing to capitalize on our stay-at-home mentality.
Why it matters: In the midst of the pain and suffering from a crisis, there's often room for innovation by forward-looking entrepreneurs with good timing.
Founders Matt Johnson-Roberson and Ram Vasudevan, both professors at the University of Michigan, developed an autonomous electric cargo bike they believed would be cheaper and easier to deploy than other delivery robots. They said...
Then the coronavirus arrived. Stay-at-home orders created a surge in grocery delivery, and Refraction AI quickly pivoted.
The company is quadrupling output, with help from Michigan's Roush Industries, and expects to have 25 robots running in Ann Arbor within the next two months.
What's next: The company is beginning a free touchless grocery delivery service in Ann Arbor, using its own employees as pickers to load the vehicles at the store.
I took a break from test-driving vehicles this week. (I felt like staying home for a change.) But next week I'll share my impressions of a new electric Mini Cooper.