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Airline Industry COVID-19 News Highlights

Panasonic Avionics
05/15/20 4 MIN READ

At Panasonic, we understand how deeply the COVID-19 pandemic has touched the airline industry. We knew we couldn’t keep publishing our blog as usual, as if nothing had happened. That’s why we started a section with news highlights —to help centralize information about the airline business and bring together context, information, and new ideas to our industry as it faces the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

We’ll be updating this page regularly.  

European Commission Issues New Guidelines For Resuming Air Travel

For Europeans, their next flight might include having to ask cabin crew staff for permission to use the toilet.

Other changes will include new processes for check-in, bag drop, and bag pickup which will be redesigned to reduce crowding. And there will be masks—lots of masks.

New guidelines have been set by the European Commission, which on May 13 published a sweeping suite of proposals for re-establishing air travel in post-coronavirus Europe. It is advocating for a “phased and coordinated approach” which will first enable EU member states with similar Covid-19 situations to permit travel.

The EC’s recommendations are non-binding. IATA head Alexandre de Juniac told Reuters he thought they were “a vague recommendation that is quite frankly not helpful to airlines or to consumers because both need clarity.” Globally, IATA estimates airlines will lose more than $300 billion due to Covid-19.

Airlines have been grappling with ways to improve social distancing inside the cabin environment. Recently, Ryanair said it would use the permission system for the toilet to avoid queueing, and would not accept cash for transactions. Other airlines have been selling “socially distanced seating” at premiums.

As Reuters pointed out, however, the EC did not address the elephant in the room: how many passengers can be allowed onto aircraft at once? Those guidelines will come from regulatory bodies in the weeks to come.

The EC guidelines can be viewed here.

With FlightPlan, Inmarsat and APEX ask ‘What’s next?’

Prior to the pandemic, commercial aviation was traveling in a steep upward trajectory as more and more people acquired the taste for travel. It all came crashing down in mid-March, teaching the industry a serious lesson about the value of resiliency in business.

On April 29, Inmarsat Aviation and APEX hosted an online video conference (replay available here) featuring major industry players to consider how the airline business might recover in the years to come, and adapt to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Check out Panasonic’s contribution to the event, “Digital Innovation in Passenger Experience,” here to find out more about why inflight entertainment systems will be intrinsic elements to the industry’s recovery.


What will travel look like once the pandemic subsides?

Will passengers and crew be required to wear masks? Will airlines charge premiums for “socially distanced seating”? Are airports going to install mandatory temperature screening equipment?

In short: How will the experience of flying change once travel restrictions around the world ease up? In its What We’re Made Of series, APEX is asking how companies inside of commercial aviation are changing to meet our new reality.

Now that the initial shockwaves of the pandemic are calming down and we’re seeing how the dust might settle, airlines and aviation-related companies may find this moment in time to be an incredible moment to slow down and really reconsider the direction of their businesses. They may consider what they could be doing to be more environmentally friendly, more economically sustainable, more socially responsible—not to mention more efficient, by using more of what they’ve already got more strategically.

Novel approaches to cutting the spread of infectious diseases

In a recent newsletter and blog post, SimpliFlying considers several approaches airlines may choose to take for helping to reduce the likelihood of travel-induced spread of diseases like COVID-19. One way, in particular, could be the rise of regional travel bubbles, she writes. Australia and New Zealand’s prime ministers are considering creating a “Trans-Tasman Bubble” once the two leaders are confident the risk of spreading the disease is no longer present.

The idea could be adopted in other parts of the world, as well. SimpliFlying says a similar bubble could feasibly be created in regions of Europe.

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