2020 has been an unpredictable year, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The virus was first discovered in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. It is important to note that world governments forced many industries to shut down at its peak to control the spread and rate of infection. In fact, in countries where positive cases had surged, like France, the government went into a full lock-down. Among the industries that were adversely hit is aviation. For instance, the Beirut International Airport was forced to downscale its operations to 10% air traffic, as noted by Omar Kaddouha, the Director of Flight Safety.
It is also important to note that as the aviation industry is affected, other sectors that depend on it feel the crisis too, like the transport and hospitality industry. Here is how the 2020 nationwide airline crisis developed:
- Travel bans and restrictions
The first measure that most countries adopted is enacting international travel bans and restrictions, especially to and from countries that reported the highest number of cases. While some airports are already opening up, most are too far from being certain as to when international flights will be allowed to land.
- Reduced number of passengers
Different countries have nearly the same measures put in place to curb the spread and infection rate of the virus, including mandatory quarantine. Therefore, some passengers are still grounded even if they are willing to take the risk of traveling. Some airlines also have their crew quarantined in foreign countries.
- Airlines are facing losses
As a result of downscaled operations, airlines are bracing huge losses, with some even declaring bankruptcy and totally shutting down workers. While some passenger airplanes are grounded, some are forced to fly empty due to the cancelation of tickets. The losses are so adverse that most airlines cannot even afford refunds. That will work against their public reputation once they reopen, which is again bad news for business.
- Laid-off workers
Airlines, airplane manufacturing companies, and service providers in the aviation industry are laying off employees. Some workers also prefer to take the necessary precautions to stay at home instead of working to protect their families from possible infection. Even if the industry were to reopen today fully, some airlines and companies would be forced to recruit labor force afresh. Analysts are saying it is the worst crisis that has ever hit the industry in history.
- Private jets
Lastly, there is an increasing demand for private jets and charter planes across the globe as most passenger planes remain grounded. In other words, the most fortunate can find an alternative means of flying without necessarily depending on airlines. Remember, most airlines rely on class tickets to make profits, and now it seems like soon there will be no one for the business and first-class tickets.
The ongoing pandemic is wreaking havoc not only in the aviation sector but also in the global economy. In fact, most airlines are now deploying their passenger planes to carry cargo. While the world is yet to benefit from vaccines, the situation may fuel technological innovations that will soon revive the industry.