Aviation industry guru John Strickland has told a London Travel Week Virtual seminar that the upheaval faced by airlines “is not temporary crisis, this is a major structural change for the industry.”
However, he firmly believes that there will be a recovery, despite the known and unknown challenges ahead.
“When we get back to volumes comparable with 2019, that will be the only similarity.
Other than that, we won’t see the same players. Some will disappear, others will shrink or get eaten up by others. Those that remain will have a different approach.”
He added: “And there will be newcomers. I’m sure there are business plans being hatched, based around what the traveller wants. It’s a great time to buy good quality second-hand aircraft”.
He also insisted that the airlines should refocus their sustainability efforts.
Less flights clearly means less emissions, but he explained that this is not a temporary drop.
Many of the planes being retired, such as British Airways 31-strong fleet of 747-400s, are old, some of them dating back to the 1990s.
BA itself describes the 747 in its announcement as “fuel-hungry” and says that the replacement long-haul planes – Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 – are up to 25% more fuel efficient.
Strickland highlighted another idea to boost the industry’s green credentials.
“We need better air traffic control in Europe, in the Middle East, the US and elsewhere,” he said.
“At a stroke, with new technology implemented, we can dramatically cut emissions from planes circling an airport, waiting to land, or from having to take indirect routes.”
However, this would require industry and government to work more closely together, something which, Strickland says, is not happening.
“A lot can be done, but there are no use politicians just pointing their finger at the industry. They need to work pro-actively and decisively with the industry.”
WTM London Senior Director Simon Press said:
“We’ve had John Strickland as our go-to aviation expert for some time, and during the pandemic his insights have been enthusiastically received by our global audience.
“He is able to balance realistic concerns with realistic optimism, backing up claims with data and drawing on his extensive experience and contacts in the industry.
“The session, like all the London Travel Week content, is available on demand, and well worth watching.”