The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the fortunes of multiple companies around the globe. Accordingly, questions are increasingly being asked about how organizations can revitalize during and after a crisis. Yet, we have limited understanding of how organizations renew themselves during crises over time. We explore this question through the lens and examination of two South-Asian airlines: Pakistan International Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. The cases offer important insights into the reasons behind underperformance of state-controlled enterprises and renewal activities. We shed light on strategic renewal (SR) in the wake of increasing liberalization and deregulations in the global airline industry. To this end, we propose a four-stage approach towards renewing such underperforming organizations to respond effectively to black swan events and external shocks.