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Airport Challenges 2022-23

  • by: Jonny Kramer
  • On: 17, Oct 2022
4 min read

Aviation has faced many challenges over the last few years, none more pressing than the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. Almost overnight, the industry suffered a huge setback, only to overcome it with new ideas, new ways of working, and new safety measures in place.

However, there are other issues, problems, and challenges the industry will have to navigate over the coming year and beyond, but as we’ve seen, if the aviation industry can overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19, it can overcome anything.

5 challenges airports will face over the next year

 The aviation skills crisis

 One of the most immediate challenges the aviation industry is facing is the skills crisis.

Given how much the industry has grown over the last decade, there simply aren’t enough skilled engineers to meet demand around the world. The industry is well aware of this issue, and recruitment drives, graduate schemes, upskilling initiatives, and other plans are in motion to deal with the deficit of talent.

 But the core issue remains: there aren’t enough workers to maintain growing fleets of aircraft.

The only way this can be solved is through mass investment, into both the next generation of engineers, and the workforce that already exists.  

Airport infrastructure

Airports must consistently upgrade their infrastructure: the runways, terminals, hotels, and shopping centers, to stay competitive. While these upgrades lead to increased passenger numbers, having to do this every few years will have a significant impact on any airport’s finances.

The aircrafts themselves need to be upgraded and maintained as well. Airline infrastructure is one of the most vital challenges in the aviation industry, as existing fleets need to be maintained, while also ensuring to purchase new models, ensuring fuel efficiency and lower operating costs.

 This challenge isn’t going to go away, with each airport striving for more business, driving up demand for better and better service.

Fuel

 Fuel availability and costs have always been a major issue for the aviation industry. High jet fuel prices have a direct impact on any airline’s available finances, and if fuel prices rise too high too fast, small airlines simply can’t afford to operate.

 With the number of airline companies rising year-on-year, fuel prices are higher than they have been previously. Alternative fuels are being researched, and have promising results that could well change the future of the industry, but maintaining fuel efficiency is one of the key challenges the aviation industry faces today.

The war in Ukraine is also having an impact, with Russia leveraging fuel reserves around the world. Russian flights saw a sharp decline when the war started, with only 73 Russian international flights on April 1 of this year, compared with 493 on January 3, 2020. Domestic Russian flights have also fallen slightly, with 306 domestic flights in the country on April 1 this year compared to 426 on January 3, 2020. 

As research into renewable fuel for planes continues, hopefully our reliance on fossil fuels will become a distant memory.

New laws and regulations

Fuel is also an area which is facing increased attention from world governments, as well as aviation bodies.

 Aviation is one of the worst industries in the world for pollution. While industry bodies, aviation businesses, and even individual airports are looking to cut down on emissions, it’s becoming increasingly likely that governments will begin to introduce legislation to enforce this.

The UK is introducing a mandate for the use of sustainable aviation fuel from 203. At least 10 % of jet fuel must be SAF from 2030, compared to what it is currently, one average less than 0.1%.

 It is likely we’ll only see more regulations like this in the future, so the industry will have to be ready for them.

Lockdowns

The pandemic made it abundantly clear that massive shifts can happen rapidly, with entire countries closing their borders and locking down in the space of a few days. This may not be the last pandemic we see in our lifetimes, as environmental breakdown leads to more aggressive diseases.

 If this is the case, the aviation industry will have to deal with lockdowns again. The problem the industry faces with lockdowns is two-fold: the immediate and obvious consequence is lack of incoming funds, the second is the long-term uncertainty around when things will open up again.  

Having already navigated this issue before, the industry does have some valuable experience here, but there are of course always lessons to learn, and contingencies that could be put in place should they be needed in the future.

 While the sector is continuing to grow as it recovers from Covid-19, local travel restrictions, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and the availability and development of fuel, remain hard to predict, casting the future strength of the aviation industry into question.

 However, as always with the industry, there are reasons to be optimistic. Demand has returned. Airlines are increasing their operations.

 Read more about how the aviation industry is pivoting to a digital strategy, or learn how the UK can reach net-zero in aviation.

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