Well, we’re coming to the end of 2021. How has travel been for you?
A slimmer industry
With the bloodbath of 2020 behind us, airlines have emerged slimmer than they were before. This has caused route maps to be redrawn, jobs to be lost – and at a time when more passengers are travelling – some are hiring and some a realising they’ve cut back too hard when staff go off when a new strain of COVID appears.
There have been some major shifts, with Norweigan Long Haul and its UK divisions gone, Stobart Air failing and even the great bastion of Alitalia finally falling by the wayside… to be replaced by a state-owned Italian airline.
I’m taking open bets when their first strike will be.
However, there is new hope – with Emerald Airlines ready to take to the air, the Norse Atlantic Airways trying to step in Norweigan’s shoes.
Erecting barriers and dismantling some of them.
Some countries have gone down the line of Zero COVID, with harsh quarantine requirements. Others have chosen to close their borders (except for residents). Others have reopened their borders this year at last, whilst some fiddle around the edges with the rules.
With borders, the opening has come with the demand to be vaccinated. in some cases, you can enter with restrictions, in other cases… don’t expect to be let in. It’s a constantly changing picture – one that won’t settle in 2022 I suspect.
For those who plan travel, this has not been the best year to be certain of anything for too long, with governments changing goalposts every few weeks or so.
It’s been a royal pain, to put it mildly – especially in the latter weeks of November and December, when Omicron began to spread.
And Passport stamps
Don’t. Just don’t. That’s one thing I didn’t expect from Brexit. My passport entering stampy town – population two when travelling to Europe.
(and ensure you get exit and entry stamps – otherwise, there’s no documentation you’ve left the EU)
Deliveries and Orders are still a thing
Whilst there may be a pandemic in full flow, orders and deliveries are still a thing, with the Dubai Air Show marking a big order book for all the major airframers as they bounce back.
In addition, some airlines are exposing holes in the Boeing catalogue, with Airbus winning a lot of orders towards the end of the year from Air France-KLM Group, as well as Qantas.
That could be a tough hole for Boeing to fill next year, as the airframer has worked bringing the 737 MAX family into service, with multiple deliveries and aviation authorities allowing the aircraft to fly again.
In addition, there’s been a lot of movement in the EVTOL space, as well as United Airlines investing in Boom. We’ll have to see how these develop over next coming years – as there are many promises for this technology
Innovation in the cabin remains a thing thankfully, with Geven and Recaro making major moves in passenger comfort.
The continued rise of onboard sales
Whilst the duty-free carts will be well and truly kept at the airport, airlines are seeking to capitalise on the economy class passenger with onboard sale programmes being introduced and tweaked. If you can’t get revenue one way, you can always try to get it another.
Yes, I’m looking at you Lufthansa Group.
How the sales are taking place is a little different – in some cases, the rise of onboard Wi-Fi has allowed at-seat ordering, which should in theory prevent waste. Although airlines like SWISS are trying to capitalise on waste.
As for 2022?
The ability to adjust will be the order of the day. With airlines cutting to the bones over the past two years and learning some might have cut too deep, they will be lessons as airlines recover and rebuild those networks that people depend on.
We can hope that governments also start to relax entry requirements to allow loved ones to reconnect again.
It’s going to be an interesting year ahead.
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