The aviation industry is a large and fast-growing sector that had improved our quality of life by its speed and reliability. It plays a vital role in global economic growth by providing millions of jobs to people across the globe. It also shows a catalytic effect on different industries like trade, tourism, labor supply, investment/business, production, and consumer/social welfare. According to the recent Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) reports, 36% of global GDP is supported by aviation, which is USD 2.7 trillion.
Covid-19 has affected many industries, among which aviation has a more significant loss because of the closure of international borders. In a few countries, domestic flights had also been terminated as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus.
Its impact is not only on the aviation industry but also on other sectors that are directly or indirectly dependent aviation industry. Here are a few examples:
- Tourism and travel: They have a very close connection with the air industry, and now it is in more significant loss due to this pandemic. All the governments across the globe are canceling the visa of foreign people.
- 25% of all companies’ sales are dependent on on-air transport and now are stopped temporarily.
- 87% of B2C and commerce parcels are currently carried by air, and these are stopped.
This pandemic is a scary scenario that it’s crashing market growth, market shares, and profitability. It can take a few years to get back to a healthy life, and in the air industry, there is a lot of change visible in the airline schedules, actual number of airlines, and passenger numbers. It will take almost six months for the recovery to begin and nearly three years for us to return fully to the style after the pandemic 2020. People should be fair enough to raise demand. Worldwide economies & economists forecast that the rebound would possibly be in a U-shaped or in W-shaped type or a two-wave recovery.
The International Air Transport Association (IAIA) estimates that global industries will lose $252 billion in 2020. The next couple of years are going to be very tough for this industry. Proper precautionary measures have to be taken in order to continue their work. Already in a few countries, the government had permitted to run the domestic flights. In such a scenario, the operational activities have to be changed to ensure the passengers’ and employees’ safety. At present, a few measures that are being taken by the management of this industry are:
- They started providing PPE kits to all the passengers as well as employees.
- Sanitizing the baggage during the check-in is being done.
- Only alternative seats are being allotted to ensure the norm of social distancing.
- The thermal screening is also being done in all the airports. If any person seems to have COVID-19 symptoms, then he/she will not be allowed to travel, and that person will be directed to the government medical team.
All these can help us up to some extent but not in the long run.
What more can be done?
The way to improve and stand firm in this situation is by reconstructing the industry using advanced technology. In the very recent webinar organized by the Bird Group and the article published in Deccan Herald (DH), the CMD of SpiceJet said, “Use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to reform aviation sector”. He also added, “Bringing aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is a long pending request. The second thing we need to look at is the structure of airports and the way airport concessions are given”.
Airlines have to invest in modern digital technology & tools. We will, therefore, have to re-evaluate their ways to reduce prices. There is also an opportunity for beginning companies & establish players in travel technologies to be innovative & strengthen to support their aviation partners.
Many Govts & organizations invest in GPS & Bluetooth location-based technology to build applications that help users to figure out whether they have been transferred by someone contaminated with a virus. Such automated applications will instantly allow authorities to diagnose where a disease originated from, where it is going, and other valuable epidemiological details.
One such technology that can resolve all the problems and bring a new face to the industry is artificial intelligence. There is a lot of scopes using AI in this industry. Here, are a few examples that can be done:
- ePassport can be accepted in all the airports
- To reduce the risk factor, the ticket booking system has to make virtual
- An application or device can be used to ensure that people are maintaining social distance. It also helps to trace the contacts of a person, which could help someone tested positive soon.
- Medical checkups by a robot
- Check-in: The traditional process of check-in has to be changed by using face reading device
- Check-in baggage: RFID enabled baggage tag to be tagged with check-in baggage
This being said, nobody knows when and how demand will grow. Still, we know for sure that the aviation business will step on very differently & people eventually travel again. This pandemic scenario provided the best-and worst-case scenario, which will help develop the aviation industry using advanced technology.
Stefano Baronci, Simon Bourke, Karen Dee, Stephanie Murphy published on March 2020. https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/114585/aviation-industry-covid-19-pandemic/
Darren Ellis, Jorge Guira, Roger Tyers published on April 24, 2020 https://scroll.in/article/960054/what-the-post-covid-19-world-will-look-like-for-the-aviation-industry
Manoj Srivastava, Director – Aviation Technology, Lorhan IT on May 18, 2020 https://www.expresscomputer.in/guest-blogs/how-can-the-aviation-industry-come-out-of-the-covid-19-crisis-successfully/55927/
B.H.(Bart)Boon, R.C.N.(Ron)Wit Published on July 2005 https://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/MisleadEconCEDelft_1.pdf
Haldane Dodd, Email: [email protected], Published on 2 October 2018
Air Transport Group Published on October 2018
This article is co-authored with Srinika Papisetty & Sona Mohammed, Woxsen University.