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Thoughts on the post-pandemic new normal in air travel
The COVID-19 pandemic will compel permanent transformation of the travel industry and its aviation sector. Key disruptors emerging from the pandemic will include:
• Behavioural changes of the travelling public;
• increased fear of contracting the virus during travel;
• continued uncertainty as to when an effective vaccine will be available, if ever;
• severe global economic downturn; and
• revised procedures to be introduced at airports and onboard aircraft that increase the inconvenience of air travel.
While the immediate effects of the pandemic may be temporary, interaction with more strategic factors, such as globalisation and the digital economy, could result in disruption of the air travel sector. Issues addressed in this paper include:
• Aviation-industry recovery and changes to the business model;
• need for regulatory change;
• inherent uncertainty in forecasting; and
• impact on airport operations and development.
This paper explores the impact of these factors and how they could permanently transform the air travel industry, and how the trends of global digitalisation present a unique opportunity to reinvent the entire aviation sector business model as well as the end-to-end travel experience. To achieve this will require meaningful collaboration of the digital technology and air transport sectors to drive innovation and transformational change in response to this challenge for society.
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Jim Robinson is Managing Director of Pegasus Aviation Advisors, a boutique strategic advisory group, and has over 25 years of experience in the planning and development of aviation infrastructure projects. The majority of his experience has been in international airport development encompassing strategic planning, airport master planning, capital programme development and investment risk analysis. In addition, he leads NexTerm, an innovation research effort in the use of advanced technology to improve airport efficiency and passenger experience. He has practical experience working at senior management level serving as Head of Strategic Planning at Dubai International Airport as well as Head of Planning at Abu Dhabi International Airport. In addition, he has a broad background in providing subject matter expertise and advisory services to airport operators, investors and technology companies on projects in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the USA.