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  • Shavonne Stellato

Can The Airline Industry Bounce Back from COVID-19?

Finally, after a long-time travelers have resumed their annual vacation travel! But the airport they are coming back to, may not be the same experience they remember it to be. After COVID struck in 2020, the airline industry was hit hard causing many problems for the airlines and personnel.

COVID-19 had devastated the economy by causing finances to fluctuate resulting in significantly less air traffic, which hit the airline industry hard. Since no one wanted to travel during a pandemic, airlines shut down causing revenue to drop sharply for the airline industry. Estimates calculated by Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) show that COVID-19 may end up costing 46 million airline-related jobs and USD 1.8 trillion in economic activities. Before COVID-19, the industry was predicted to make USD 188 billion in 2020 but after the pandemic hit the projection was diminished by 66.3%.

COVID-19 also caused a labor shortage in the industry. Without any revenue to pay employees, airports and airlines had to lay off and reduce their number of staff costing them critical and important personnel. Even with protective measures in place, taking passengers places and handling airport traffic was too risky to employees, which may have caused employees to shrink in total number. This resulted in flight delays and cancellations due to staffing issues, causing financial ramifications and economic instability.

Since COVID -19 was spreading very rapidly and was deadly, it caused immense lockdowns and extreme bankruptcy which stopped air travel in its tracks. Fewer available airlines are one of the many challenges for the industry. Many experts have predicted that in the end there will be fewer airlines running, which will give travelers fewer options to choose from. Even though this put more pressure on the airlines that remained, COVID-19 impacted the industry again when the second wave of the pandemic hit making people not want to travel.

So how can the airline industry continue to get business back? Several strategies could be used.

  • Recovery will mostly be dependent on leisure flyers that are particular about prices, so U.S Carriers will need to be careful about their pricing. International airlines especially will have to watch their prices and change up their pricing strategies.

  • Airlines need aircraft maintenance and workforce to be their top priority as travel resumes and austerity measures ease. They need to rehire and unsuspend pilots who were laid off during the pandemic and retrain them if need. Airline companies also need to make sure they acquire suitable parts and keep track of inventory so they can run efficiently.

  • Airlines should focus on providing a safe and clean environment by practicing good hygiene by making sure the aircraft is thoroughly cleaned and customers are aware of the airline’s procedures for hygiene. Good customer service is also important for airlines to provide. They will need to be accommodating with cancellations and flight changes as the pandemic starts to lift. Airlines that successfully deal with customers proficiently and smoothly with great customer service will attract them and make them come back.

By practicing these guidelines, the industry has seen a comeback. “Travel came back with a vengeance in 2022, with increased pent-up demand following the pandemic,” said Hayley Berg, the lead economist at Hopper, an online travel booking site. “We saw Americans prioritizing travel to big cities post-pandemic… As international destinations reopened particularly in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, demand for trips across the pacific surged in the second half of 2022. We expect this to continue into 2023 as Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok are already ranking in the top trending destinations for travel next year.”

Airport travel has steadily increased over the course of 2022. The Transportation Security Administration recorded in November that the number of passengers screened in a day was higher than were screened in a day before the pandemic.

The airline industry has to remember that customers are expecting the same level of service when flying. To get the business back airlines are going to have to lure leisure travelers with good pricing. They have to get their staffing levels close to what they were before the pandemic to keep the frustration level down and make sure that customers understand their commitment to a safe, clean, healthy environment when traveling. Both the customers and the airline industry want flying to be safe, hassle free, and enjoyable again.

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