Industry Voices: Moving Beyond Covid?
Leaders from across the industry give their assessment on the current state of aviation, looking ahead to a challenging summer and priorities for ATM.
: "After what has been a tumultuous two and a half years, it finally feels like we are emerging from the long shadow of the Covid crisis.
I almost don’t want to commit that to writing after what have been several false dawns, but the truth is we’re now seeing the sustained return of traffic not experienced since 2019. The latest forecasts suggest Europe’s summer traffic will be close to 85% of what we saw before the pandemic, with flight numbers even peaking above pre-Covid levels at times.
People want to fly again and that is cause for celebration. It is of course not without its difficulties too. Scaling back up to cope with those peaks in demand is not an easy thing to do and we are seeing the resulting pressure manifest itself in sometimes very visible but also less obvious ways too. This will be a challenging summer.
The latest forecasts suggest Europe’s summer traffic will be close to 85% of what we saw before the pandemic, with flight numbers even peaking above pre-Covid levels at times.
Martin Rolfe, CEO, NATS
But what does the rest of our industry think? We have asked leaders representing the full spectrum of the industry to offer their thoughts on the immediate and longer-term health of aviation. While there are some differing priorities, I’m pleased to see a lot of commonality too.
The past two years has shown us how strong we can be when we collaborate, and while there will no doubt be some turbulence ahead, that will see us through to clearer skies, I am sure."
Question 1: How would you describe the current state of the industry?
: "To understand where we are now, you have to understand where we have come from. Air traffic – the very lifeblood of our industry – stopped. And yet we survived.
How did we do that? Data from CANSO’s Global Benchmarking Workgroup indicates that the majority of ANSPs adjusted their structure, shifted priorities and pursued digitalisation. In other words, innovation and agility.
We even managed to keep an eye on the future. Just 4% of ANSPs completely stopped their CAPEX programmes in 2020 because we knew that traffic would recover and that capacity had to keep pace.
So, despite everything that has happened I believe our industry showed extraordinary resilience. Yes, the pandemic accelerated change. But when that change is positive – enacted in a transparent manner with the full collaboration of partners – it means we are improving and in better shape than before. CANSO’s Complete Air Traffic System Global Council typifies the foundation for success that we are building. It is producing a roadmap for the skies of 2045."
Air traffic – the very lifeblood of our industry – stopped. And yet we survived.
Simon Hocquard, CANSO
: "Aviation has been one of the worst-hit industries by the pandemic and we face a steep recovery path from the deepest crisis in our history.
At British Airways we're completely focused on three priorities: our customers, supporting the biggest recruitment drive in our history and increasing our operational resilience."
At British Airways we're completely focused on three priorities: our customers, supporting the biggest recruitment drive in our history and increasing our operational resilience.
Sean Doyle, British Airways
: "The industry is getting back on its feet after a devastating two years. The aviation sector was one of the first to be hit by the pandemic, it was one of the hardest hit and will be one of the last to recover however, thanks to the incredible efforts of our airport teams we have been made to resume both domestic and international travel smoothly and safely.
The recent Easter school holidays saw significant increases in passengers coming through our airports which was a great signal the community is regaining the confidence to travel again."
: "With passengers returning in volume, airports are optimistic about the summer. We are seeing a steady recovery, though bookings are coming through quite late suggesting that there is still some uncertainty among consumers about booking travel.
We hope that as 2022 progresses, that confidence increases and people start to plan further ahead again. Amongst the bookings we are seeing a lot of people finally looking to take a trip that was planned during the pandemic and postponed due to travel restrictions.
This is to some extent masking any impact of the cost of living crisis on consumer confidence and so the outlook for the winter season 2022/23 is a little less clear. "