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What Will Happen to the Aviation Industry After CoviD-19


The whole aviation industry will indeed change after the CoviD-19 crisis. It will be like a total reset of the whole industry, in anticipation that if any similar incidents happen in the future, the blow would not be as hard as it is today. This CoviD-19 crisis has so far been the worse crisis to ever hit the aviation industry worldwide since World War II, and it all happened in a time when the industry was on an upward trajectory.
The aviation industry is presently in a major crisis. Air travel demand has plummeted by 70% due to government imposed travel bans and restrictions to further prevent the spread of the CoviD-19. Many countries are in lockdowns and passengers fear travelling to other countries for the mean time, particularly those badly hit by the disease.

This all resulted to airlines slashing capacity by 90%. Airplanes are now parked then grounded, and our once busy airports are like ghost towns, empty of passengers. The whole industry faces uncertainty at this point.
While this crisis is temporary, the effects are permanent and will change the whole aviation industry forever.

Though nothing is really certain in the future, here are some changes we see happening in the next few months and years based on AsianAviation.com. These are:
  • Major changes in airport infrastructure as countries look to prevent possible new viral infections with extensive screenings of arriving passengers, especially “foreigners”.
  • Countries like China, South Korea, Australia and others with extensive domestic aviation routes will likely see a recovery in the industry there first.
  • International air traffic will likely take much, much longer to recover than domestic traffic.
  • Nationalism, both the usual kind and the “nationalisation” of air carriers could become the norm as governments seek to keep their flag carriers flying.
  • Consolidation of airlines is likely to occur as debt-laden carriers are gobbled up by those with stronger balance sheets.
May we also add that we see the same scenario happening in the Philippines where domestic travel will most likely see a recovery first.

First and foremost, national governments will play a major role in the revival of the aviation industry, especially on bailouts and other relief measures, particularly the national carriers. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have been consistent in urging governments to support their airline industry because not doing so will cause a collapse of a billion dollar industry and putting the jobs of millions at stake. 

It may take more than three to four months for the whole industry to recover, in fact, one to two years is already optimistic. Once the skies open once again, demand will not balloon on an instant. The demand will be very slow as many people have lost their jobs resulting to a deplete in income, plus, the fear of international travel is still there. Countries will also be reluctant to allow possible virus carriers into their borders.

While many also think that travel for leisure purposes will take a slower increase than business travels, the lockdowns and quarantine periods have allowed businesses to find ways to continue operating via digital platforms, cloud-based apps, and virtual meetings, which is actually more cost efficient. The need for business travel may not be as often as before as more digital platforms are being developed to allow employees and executives to work remotely from any given location.

Another interesting thing aviation analysts are watching out for are the design of aircraft cabins in the future where seat capacity may be decreased as people will be more conscious now on "social distancing", thinking of who they may be next sitting to.

For the Philippines however, we doubt that seat configuration would change. Cebu Pacific's newest Airbus NEO jets will be configured to its maximum seating capacity. Their upcoming A330-900neo will be configured with 460 seats, the most dense A330 configuration if this would push through. By the time these new aircraft would be delivered to the airline, CoviD-19 vaccines and medicines hopefully would already be in the market and Filipino travellers would no longer have that "fear".

One good thing bound to happen. Fuel prices will drop significantly, and fuel makes up 30% of an airlines' expense.

One thing is certain, airline strategies from now to the future will be different. A lot will change. Contingency plans will already be at place in the event that a similar crisis may happen in the future.

The future of aviation will no longer be the same. It will indeed be a new phase, a reboot.

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