(Reuters) – U.S. airlines are collectively burning more than $10 billion in cash per month and averaging fewer than two dozen passengers per domestic flight, industry trade group Airlines for America said in prepared testimony seen by Reuters ahead of a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Even after grounding more than 3,000 aircraft, or nearly 50% of the active U.S. fleet, the group said its member carriers, which include the four largest U.S. airlines, are averaging just 17 passengers per domestic flight and 29 passengers per international flight.

“The U.S. airline industry will emerge from this crisis a mere shadow of what it was just three short months ago,” the group’s chief executive, Nicholas Calio, will say, according to his prepared testimony.

Net booked passengers have fallen by nearly 100% year-on-year, it said, and warned that if air carriers were to refund all tickets, including those purchased under the condition of being nonrefundable or those canceled by a passenger instead of the carrier, “this will result in negative cash balances that will lead to bankruptcy.”

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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