As Covid-19 devastates individuals and industries across the globe, the Aerospace & Aviation sector continues to suffer.
Flight bans in lockdown countries and cancelled trips from concerned customers in others have already impacted the world’s airlines and will have a knock-on effect on MROs, OEMs and Aerospace suppliers. In the first few weeks of the pandemic, carriers Ryanair and easyJet and Ryanair lost around 30% and 22% of respective business value, and Flybe went into administration. More than half of commercial fleets around the world were grounded, leaving almost 20,000 airplanes on the tarmac or in hangars for months. The sector has been forced to discuss and implement pay cuts for pilots, crew, technicians and managers, announce fleet reductions and made mass redundancies.
However, the coronavirus pandemic is not the first major challenge that has faced the Aerospace and Aviation industry in recent years. The 9/11 terrorist attacks saw a plethora of security measures introduced around the world at an urgent speed, resulting increased security and positive change across the industry. The 2008 economic recession started the groundwork for mergers and acquisitions that saved companies and provided fresh competition for major players, and technological advancements have combined with globalisation to find new ways of addressing diminishing airport capacity and increased customer demand.
Here are five ways that the Aviation industry are getting planes back in the skies by protecting passengers, employees and business continuity.
Customers will see streamlined services whilst on board and in airports. Whilst in the air, many carriers are limiting their food and drink services to a reduced menu or stopping food, drink and duty free services altogether to limit the risk of illness spreading between passengers and crew. Short-haul flights under a couple of hours could see toilet facilities out of action to further assist social distancing. Business class travellers could also see packages change to reduce access to lounges and instead focus more on points benefits or additional discounts on hotels.
Although these changes may seem to run in direct opposition to previously predicted trends for the Aviation industry for the coming years, the restrictions could present a blessing in disguise. Cost reduction and flight route concentration enables carriers to focus only on products and services that passengers really want, and to invest in improving these areas for the benefit of businesses and customers. Streamlined Aviation services mean passengers are better supported with technology, providing a faster and more efficient service, and can rest assured that their safety is prioritised every time they fly.
Every crisis provides an opportunity for innovation and discoveries of working in better ways for all involved. To fight against the spread of coronavirus, line maintenance organisation Luftavia have released electro-static technology equipment that provides lightweight decontamination equipment for aircraft.
Following speedy research and significant investment, Luftavia’s technology can decontaminate a wide-body aircraft cabin in under half an hour. The convenient hand-held battery-powered guns don’t disrupt other ground-handling services, and are easy to transport and use across different aircraft and worksites, inside and outside of cabins, galleys and hangers. Since March 2020, the antiviral sanitisation tool has been approved and rolled to several US airlines and multiple ground handling cleaning organisations internationally.
Luftavia’s new technology arrives at a welcome time for the industry. Hygiene and therefore decontamination have become urgent areas of concern for sector workers, crew, pilots and travellers. The US Government is under pressure to introduce disease prevention legislation after 300 pilots tested positive for the virus, and many airline employees internationally have been concerned around the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). American airline Delta recently confirmed that most United States-based carriers have implemented a plethora of new cleaning and safety measures that ‘not only meet but exceed CDC guidelines’, including sanitising flights.
Luftavia’s product development, and the fast-thinking and adaptability of many other Aerospace providers, presents the opportunity for increased collaboration and innovation across the industry. By harnessing the unprecedented situation to take a step back and assess rapidly changed market needs and problems, airlines, manufacturers and suppliers can utilise research and technology developments to work much more closely together for the protection and growth of the industry.
Airlines around the world have begun to streamline their routes and journey offerings. Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines were recently asked by the NZ Government to manage international bookings to ensure quarantine facilities are not overwhelmed. For the next few months, and potentially longer pending the status of pandemics across the globe, air journeys will be restricted to control the increasing flow of people wanting to return home to escape the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Services may affect travellers across New Zealand, Australia, China, Hong Kong and America.
Megan Woods, the New Zealand Government’s minister managing isolation and quarantine, said that anyone who had already bought a ticket to fly back to New Zealand in the next three weeks would still be able to fly. ‘However, Kiwis who did not already have tickets would not be able to book flights in the next three weeks,’ Woods said. ‘We won’t let our border facilities reach maximum capacity.’
Whilst the quarantine measures are currently only temporary, few businesses across industries will escape permanent disruption to their services, and the Aerospace & Aviation sector will be no different. The demise of carriers such as Flybe means reduced competition and a smaller number of choices of airline for passengers. Choice will be further restricted by destinations, routes, dates, times and types of service: surviving airlines will only be able to undertake flights that are financially profitable, meaning that the most popular routes and destinations will dominate.
In America alone, US carrier Delta is reducing international flights by 25% and domestic journeys by 15%, American Airlines will reduce its summer international flying by 10%, and similar measures were announced by United Airlines and JetBlue. Flight frequency will also be reduced to fill as many seats per plane as possible, which could see the end of the low-cost seats fliers have been able to enjoy for the past few years. ‘Fewer seats flying means fewer cheap seats at the margin,’ comments Aviation specialist Philip Baggaley at S&P Global.
Many carriers have already got back to business by implementing social distancing measures on board and before and after flights. Lufthansa is enforcing empty middle seats to facilitate social distancing between fliers, and other providers such as easyJet have committed to following suit. All major U.S. carriers require passengers to wear masks onboard to limit disease transmission. American Airlines states, ‘We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we’re providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well.”’
As the UK’s Manchester Airport reopens several of its terminals, business travellers and holidaymakers will now be greeted by Perspex screens, bookable security slots and temperature checks. The airport has strategically redesigned its checking in, lounge and onboarding environments so that customers can go directly to security points and gates, and the airport’s new communication campaign helps passengers plan and prepare for their travel ahead of time.
All airlines around the world have begun to adapt their services to make flying safer for passengers, with recent measures including:
To evidence their support for the health and safety of passengers, airlines and airports are readily committing to flight bans or fines for any travellers who do not comply with the regulations.
As the wave of adaptations begin to change the Aerospace & Aviation industry, passengers can be reassured that, despite inconveniences and potential disruption, their health and safety is of paramount importance to the sector. The enforced concentration and diversification could signal a new era for better collaboration and customer experience, for the benefit of business leaders, workers and travellers around the world.
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