The demise of UK aviation

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The boss of AGS Airports, which runs Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow, has claimed that the government (I assume he means the UK government or does he include the devolved administrations as well?) is presiding over the death of UK aviation.

making leisure passengers feel confident about flying is key

Possibly as an airline boss he is a little biased but there is no doubt that two sectors of the leisure industry – overseas holidays and aviation – face a very uncertain time and that is putting it mildly.

He went on to claim that the aviation sector was seeing more job losses than the demise of the coal industry in the 1980s.

All industries that have been hit by the pandemic have to answer a vital if not difficult question.

Which is more important; the health of the population or protecting jobs and industry?

The glib answer is that both are important but how to maintain both.

Airlines will tell you that they must re-start and if they don’t there will be few that will survive. Air France – KLM, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic have all had billions of money pumped in them by investors, banks or governments to keep them in business.

But what they really need is to be able to fly again and to fly with passengers.

The airlines and airports think that testing at airports could be the answer. The reasoning is that if an incoming passenger was tested at an airport and tested positive they would go into quarantine. If they tested negative they could return home but would face another test in a few days after returning. If both tests were negative then they could return to work. This, they argue, could reduce the quarantine period to possibly 7-10 days.

That might help but there is still the quarantine period to resolve. Whilst four to seven days does make a difference, will it be sufficient for passengers to feel confident to fly and holiday again.

What airlines and airports have failed to consider is that during the height of the pandemic, video calls and conferencing was proven to be effective. Business people in particular may fly again but possible not as often as they once did.

Which leaves the leisure market. Whilst staycations have boomed – caravans and motor home sales and rentals have rocketed during the last couple of months – there will be many people that wish to go abroad again.

But what are airlines and airports doing to make people feel safe. Masks and distancing seem to be it.

Here are some things they could – and maybe are – considering.

  • Realigning seats on planes so that people have their own little “cube.”
  • Taking out a few rows of seats so that distancing is more easily seen particularly on medium and long-haul flights.
  • Testing before joining a flight and only carrying those that have normal temperatures.
  • Recommending passengers carry their own food and drink and take rubbish away with them
  • Just as there is curtaining between business class and economy class, have curtains between every row.
  • Only let window passengers on first then middle seat and finally aisle seat passengers so that less crowding occurs seating passengers.
  • Above all perception is key so do things that are obvious in the eyes of passengers. They may have little effect but they will give confidence.

The attitude of airlines has been to pack as many people into a plane as possible. The time might be coming when fewer passengers on a flight and more room may give more confidence. Otherwise staycationers may settle for staying at home in greater numbers than has been the case before this year.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , ,