How Is the aviation industry recovering after the Corona pandemic, especially with the Omicron variant? - By Ahmed HAOUARIA

12 Fév 2022
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The global aviation sector began to gradually recover with the expansion of the vaccination campaign against the Corona pandemic and the gradual resumption of flights in many countries of the world, but this recovery came less than expected; Because of the instability controlling the movement of travel.

During the past year, the aviation sector suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic, and companies around the world suffered losses that forced them to lay off part of their employees, while companies stopped working completely.

Expectations were for the aviation sector to recover with the start of providing the vaccine and easing travel restrictions globally, but the new strains of the epidemic hit these expectations and caused a state of instability in the travel movement.

 

47 billion dollars lossse in 2021 in Europe

After record losses incurred by the international travel sector in 2020 that exceeded 126 billion dollars due to the Corona pandemic, the expectations were heading towards 2021 as the beginning of recovery for this sector, according to the International Air Transport Association, IATA.In the European continent, the picture appears clearer about the repercussions of the Corona virus crisis on this sector, as the first half of this year was an extension of what was happening in 2020, so international travel continued to suffer as a result of this crisis. IATA says that global losses in 2021 exceed 47 billion dollars, and that the European continent’s share of them It reached 22 billion.
And in June 2021, the sector began to experience a state of optimism after the European Union countries agreed to ease travel restrictions during the summer, allowing tourists who had received full vaccination doses to avoid examinations or quarantine, as well as expanding the list of European Union regions from which travel is safe. With the gradual return of travel, the International Air Transport Association called on all governments to lift travel restrictions to help restore demand levels and revitalize the travel and tourism sectors on which the countries’ economy largely depends, and in a way that contributes to the rapid recovery of travel movement.

Omicron and Uncertainty imposed

And the Omicron mutant came to impose a state of uncertainty, and this is what prompted the countries of the Union to discuss the Commission’s proposal to maintain the so-called emergency brake mechanism to be used in the event of the emergence of new strains or outbreaks of the virus, but with a unified framework for when the new restrictions will start.
The International Air Transport Association expects air traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels by at least 2023. Although it is expected that air traffic will double over the next 20 years from 4.5 billion passengers in 2019 to 8.5 billion in 2039, these numbers are one billion fewer passengers than they were before the pandemic. The International Federation (IATA) has warned of potential chaos at global airports unless governments move quickly to adopt the digital health passport.
 
Airports challenges

IATA said (late May): "The average waiting and reception times for travelers doubled than it was before the crisis, during the peak time, and reached three hours, and this is unacceptable." He explained that travel procedures for each flight took an average of 1.5 hours from the passenger, before the pandemic, including check-in, finalizing security procedures, border control, customs, and claiming baggage. Current data shows that airport check-in times have doubled to 3 hours during peak time, with traffic dropping by only 30%. Airport operations can take up to 5.5 hours per flight, when traffic levels rise up to 75%.
This waiting time is expected to reach 8 hours for each flight, with flight traffic levels reaching 100% compared to the movement recorded before the pandemic, according to IATA. During the "Arab Travel Market - 2021" exhibition, which was held in the Emirates last mont, aviation specialists said that the aviation sector is on its way to overcoming the crisis within two years at the latest. However, they stressed that this is subject to international cooperation to simplify travel procedures, foremost of which is the abolition of quarantine and only negative examinations while strengthening the provision of vaccines.

Gradual space opening in progress

While many countries, especially in the Gulf region and Europe, have begun to open their airspace to flights while respecting health protocols, the United States is preparing to do the same procedure next months, but the various long-distance markets remain in a state of stagnation, especially those linking Asia with Europe and North America.“The scale of the Covid-19 crisis for airlines is enormous,” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, told the largest gathering of industry CEOs in more than two years.

"People have not lost their desire to travel, as we see in the resilience of the strong local market," he added. But they are banned from international travel due to restrictions, uncertainty and complexity.”

Airlines are facing difficulties in filling vacancies

Some international airlines are facing difficulties in filling vacancies in light of the emergence of competition to hire beginners to get out of the crisis, which is expected to delay the recovery of the travel sector, while other companies are facing other problems embodied in the high number of employees who do not come to work. Companies began hiring pilots and flight attendants for more than a year after cutting jobs as the travel industry collapsed due to the pandemic, which led to governments imposing restrictions on air travel.

Despite the high demand for travel agencies, this remains less than the larger challenge of the demand for low-skilled jobs such as baggage handlers, aircraft refuelers and catering personnel.

Achieving net zero emissions by 2050: The big dilemma

And that dilemma is not the last, as airlines face an additional problem in responding to calls to reduce their carbon footprint. Although the health crisis has slowed plans, IATA is accelerating its goals, setting a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The number of travelers from pre-pandemic ranges is expected to increase this year by about 40 percent, to reach 61 percent next year, when the number of travelers should be 3.4 billion.

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