Several Forbes contributors shared some very interesting perspectives on what 2021 may have to offer the American aviation industry.

Some of these predictions are reasonable, others are pessimistic, and others are quite bold. But I’ll let you take a look and see for yourself…

Business travel:

Business travel will return and leisure travel surge. The only real question is timing. I think travel will gradually revive in the second half of 2021, on a path to 80% of 2019 levels in the summer of 2022… [American Airlines] will be very profitable in the third quarter.”

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

Airlines and online travel agencies will begin offering “vaccine vacations” in 2021 to jump-start travel…. They will offer deals, preferences and perks to potential travelers with digital health certificates or other proof of vaccination. Airlines are unlikely to offer at-the-airport vaccination. But many will partner with vaccine providers like CVS to offer vaccinations.”

Drone activity:

The US Federal Aviation Administration will finally approve a comprehensive set of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) rules that will generate a massive uptick in commercial drone activity in the US outside of major cities. 

We will see drone swarms monitoring fire risks, a gradual scale-up of drone delivery applications in rural areas, drones measuring the growth of forest stands.”

Air Travel in China:

The China air travel recovery is very impressive. But in the past, the industry has counted on strong Chinese market growth to help fuel aircraft delivery recoveries. That might not happen this time.

This is because China’s air travel demand slowdown predates the pandemic. In October 2019, China’s domestic traffic grew just 5.3% year over year, compared with 12.2% growth in October 2018.

The recovery of demand for flying:

“I predict we’ll get back to the 2019 air traffic peak in late 2022. For comparison, I had been saying this would happen in the second half of 2023, as have many of my peers. The International Air Transport Association, for which I have a great deal of respect, still says 2024.

A lot can go wrong here. There could be setbacks to getting the pandemic under control. There could be a double-dip recession, or one or more stock market crashes. And of course, there’s always the risk of unpleasant geopolitical shocks. But based on the drivers I described in the section above, air travel looks poised for a fantastic turnaround.”

All very interesting! My only gripe is that the article did not discuss what would happen to people who DO NOT take the COVID-19 vaccine, out of refusal or for legitimate medical/religious reasons. It’s a dark subject, and one most people are too afraid to talk about due to the fear of reputational damage. 

But I’m curious to know: What do YOU think about these predictions? Agree or disagree with any of them, and if so, why? Reply to this newsletter and share your opinions with us!

20 Years of Aviation Growth LOST Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now that 2020 will come to an end as of tomorrow midnight, we have enough data to assess the damage done to the global aviation industry by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A newly released from Cirium, a global aviation data firm, shows that the year was an absolute train wreck. Breaking Travel News reports on the most important findings:

“…the pandemic and its consequences wiped out 21 years of global aviation growth in a matter of months, reducing passenger numbers this year to levels last seen in 1999. Passenger traffic was down 67% in 2020.

At the peak of the disruption, scheduled passenger flights dropped significantly to just 13,600 globally on April 25th, compared to the busiest day of the year on January 3rd [86% reduction in flights].

From January to December airlines operated 49% fewer flights in 2020 compared to 2019 – down from 33.2 million flights to just 16.8 million. Domestic travel was down 40% this year, from 21.5 million flights in 2019, while international flights suffered an even more precipitous drop as they were 68% below the 11.7 million flights tracked the year before.

The first number alone really paints the contrast between industries who have THRIVED during the pandemic and those who have struggled to SURVIVE. 

Even with 10 years where we don’t have any global health pandemics and the world economy surges at a rate never-before-seen, I think it will take much longer for the global aviation industry to recover towards its original path of growth…

Less Than 50% of American Airlines’ Flight Schedule in 2019 Will Operate Into 2021

The boost in passenger demand and foot traffic for the Christmas holiday season won’t be enough for US airlines to increase their travel schedules back to pre-2020 levels. 

Especially not for American Airlines, who had some sad news to share with the world, according to TravelPulse:

“American Airlines’ President Robert Isom told media that the carrier expects the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue dragging down demand and prompting schedule reductions during the first months of 2021… Isom said that American is flying around 45% of its 2019 schedule this month.”

What could possibly have led to this decision? Numerous recent factors, sadly…

We have the new COVID-19 mutant to worry about, with the first confirmed case landing in the US just yesterday (and several other parts of the world). We have the increased travel restrictions worldwide that have been implemented as a result. 

And we have an ever-expanding increase of COVID-19 cases in the US where nothing we’ve tried seems to work so far. Worse yet, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines have been slower than expected and there’s no telling if it will actually work with the promised “90% efficacy rate” from Moderna and Pfizer. 

American Airlines will NOT be the only affected aviation company. The other US airlines and several international airlines will feel the blunt of these factors as well…

Out of Nowhere, Norwegian Suspends ALL Cruises Through March 2021!

Just on Monday, Norwegian Cruise Line announced several cruises in March and April of next year. They were more than optimistic about their chances to meet the new regulatory loopholes imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure a safe cruising experience in a post-coronavirus world. 

But yesterday, all of the good news came to an end when they announced the suspension on of all cruises through March 31st for three of their ships expected to serve all of their vacation routes – Joy, Escape, and Encore. From the official company website:

“We have extended our voluntary temporary suspension of ALL voyages through March 2021… Previously, we had announced the suspension of cruises on all ships except Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, and Norwegian Joy. Today, we have added those three ships to the list of cruises suspended through March 2021.

As we work through our return-to-service plan to meet these requirements, we will continue to partner with global and domestic authorities, including the CDC, to chart a path forward… we are making decisions as quickly and thoughtfully as possible, continuing to keep our guests’ and travel partners’ best interests at heart.”

A real disappointment for anybody who was looking forward to a cruise vacation with Norwegian so they can escape the harsher winter weather. And an even bigger upset for Norwegian themselves, who now have to further delay their plans for recovery…

Switzerland Announces New Quarantine — Over 200 Tourists FLEE Ski Resorts!

Switzerland was one of the countries who immediately announced that travel from the UK would be restricted when the new COVID-19 mutant started spreading around. 

As you can imagine, this did not sit too well with the British tourists who were already occupying the country’s ski resorts at the time. From Travel + Leisure:

“On Dec. 21, Swiss authorities imposed a retroactive quarantine requirement on travelers from the UK and South Africa in an effort to curb transmission of the coronavirus variant. 

That measure required anyone who had arrived from the UK or South Africa since Dec 14 to quarantine for 10 days. It threatened a 10,000 Swiss franc (around $11,309) fine for anyone violating the rules.

Hundreds of British tourists on holiday ski trips skipped out on Switzerland’s retroactive quarantine ahead of Christmas, with some having made escapes from their luxury accommodations in the middle of the night.”

This is not surprising when you consider what happened earlier this month. When the UK announced new and harsher lockdown restrictions preventing the Britons from LEAVING their own country, people were lining up at the airports in droves to flee the country before the police would be given the order to stop them at all costs. 

Can’t blame them – if I was in the same position as them, I’d be feeling Switzerland in a heartbeat!

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