Ever since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the world has experienced what can only be described as a massive shakeup.
From daily activities to jobs and even regular movements, nations of the world have realized that the simplest of activities have become an asset we cannot afford.
As travel restrictions continue to increase all over the world, the aviation sector is experiencing a drastic situation that will leave lasting marks on it.
While you might think that the airline industry can cope with the direst circumstances; (after all it weathered the storms caused by the 2001 September 11 attacks and survived. It also made it through the 2002 April severe acute respiratory syndrome pandemic), the COVID-19 pandemic brings a different wave of shock that the industry might not know how to recover from
The rapid nature of the spread suggests that it would take long months for any and every sector affected to recover.
Airlines will struggle to stay afloat
The first challenge airlines are beginning to face is that of revenue generation. As flights are canceled and people cancel their travel plans for months into the future, most airlines cannot afford to run into the next few months without having money come in regularly.
This reality poses a threat to the business and finances of airlines, especially the struggling private ones. Profit-making is no longer the topic of discourse, rather, staying afloat is.
The world is adapting quickly and traveling might not look very attractive soon
The coronavirus pandemic has made travelers think twice about the importance of making long and short distance trips; especially as we are increasingly realizing that we can do without them.
Nobody is willing to trust scanners and automated machines in the airport to keep them out of harm’s way. Hence, the decision by many to stay put and stay safe.
From Skype to Zoom, the nature of meetings is changing rapidly
Face to face meetings have been replaced with Skype and Zoom calls, and things are going quite fine. Business proposals, deals, and meetings are conducted and concluded online.
It seems as if in the past months, the world suddenly became aware that we have many alternatives to nearly all the activities you can think of. Or maybe as they say, adaptation is one of our major strengths.
Tourists and vacationers are increasingly connecting to online streaming platforms and engaging in virtual tourism. Firms and organizations have realized that their staff can work from home. Seminars now hold as webinars, and job interviews have become phone-in, rather than a walk-in.
People are slowly getting used to staying home, connecting with people via technology and doing all they need to do without moving an inch.
All these raise a pertinent question; will our airline industry recover from COVID-19 pandemic? Will people dust off the shoes and get back to flying after discovering that they can indeed live without it? Or will we decide to continue as we are now?
The climate change factor is set to come in
While we talk about finances and changing travel habits, climate change reports have shown a drop in air pollution ever since restrictions in movement, particularly flight restrictions have been implemented nearly world over.
NASA’s Earth Observatory pollution satellites have shown significant decreases in air pollution over China since the coronavirus outbreak began.
For years, scientists and weather experts have urged world leaders to combat gas emissions and air pollutions, which have continued to increase as organizations, factories, and the aviation industries continue to contribute in the spike.
However, in light of the unexpected decline in air pollution as a result of the virus outbreak, the focus is again returned to the need to curb this impending climate crisis and eyes might turn to the aviation industry.
The talks about less flying being best for climate change are about to resume, and this time they are likely to be more heated than other discussions we have had.
Another resounding question is how the world is supposed to go backward, as we have increasing plans to expand our airlines especially in the western part of the world.
Heathrow and proposed airline expansions might need a rethink
With Qantas proposing direct flights from London to Sydney, and the Heathrow airport planned 3rd runway expansion which has brought about much-heated debate, we are likely to arrive at a stalemate with such plans.
As the idea to expand Heathrow still remains a topic of debate after so many years, with businesses supporting the idea, and environmentalists on the other end, one would dare take a look at what state Heathrow is in right now.
The Heathrow airport where you can find virtually everyone and everything has become near empty as things become increasingly quiet. With canceled flights to Italy, China and other countries, rapid drop in airline bookings, and adamant refusal by passengers to even come by the airport, perhaps we should look at how we survive this epidemic and recover before moving forward.
In light of all the changes, restrictions and activities that have developed as a result of COVID-19, many fingers point to a drastic change in flying habits for a long time; if not forever.
However, with possible adaptability strategies, suggested government support, and enthusiasm that people might quickly return to their old ways after things die down, we might choose to keep our fingers crossed.