Covid-19 has had an unparalleled and devastating impact on the aviation industry with airlines grounding their entire fleets for months. Picture: Tanathip Rattanatum/Pexels.
Covid-19 has had an unparalleled and devastating impact on the aviation industry with airlines grounding their entire fleets for months. Picture: Tanathip Rattanatum/Pexels.

Why airlines need to be innovative to ensure longevity during Covid-19 pandemic

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Jul 3, 2020

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While the aviation industry had to deal with a series of setbacks over the years, experts say Covid-19 is different. 

The global pandemic has had an unparalleled and devastating impact on the aviation industry with airlines grounding their entire fleets for months. Over 60 percent of flights were cancelled worldwide, with bookings in April 2020 alone dropping a staggering 95 percent compared to the same month the previous year, and 75 million jobs are said to be at risk. Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel as some countries have started to open their borders and air travel is tentatively resuming.

Maher Koubaa, Executive Vice President Airlines of the Amadeus IT Group believes innovation will be key to overcome the challenges and emerge stronger from the crisis.

“Although the future is uncertain for everyone – and especially for those in the travel industry – history teaches us that change is inevitable and unavoidable. As we see a cautious return to the skies, and we rethink the future of the industry together, innovation will be key to overcome the challenges and emerge stronger from the crisis,” he said. 

Executive Vice President Airlines of the Amadeus IT Group Maher Koubaa shares reasons why airlines need to be innovative in a Covid-19 world. Picture: Supplied.

Koubaa said there were a number of innovations that airlines could use. 

He shares a few with IOL Travel:

Focus on delivering a frictionless traveller experience

Koubaa said travellers may be hesitant or anxious to board a flight in this new Covid-19 world. "To rebuild traveller trust, it is imperative that airlines address these fears while they continue to focus on delivering a seamless traveller experience.

"Technology lies at the heart of this goal. During the current period of uncertainty, relevant real-time information is more important than ever before. Technology allows airlines to support customers throughout the journey, providing real-time, personalised alerts to inform of flight changes, services or offers," he said 

Improve airline systems to allow for agility

Koubaa said Covid-19 has effectively reset the travel industry. He said every tourism company and airline is taking a hard look at its operations, reassessing its ways of working and adapting to the 'new normal'. 

"In this new world, the ability to make fast decisions has become crucial. Over the past few months, many airlines scaled back operations and refocused some of their fleets to support repatriation flights and medical supply shipments. Technology played a critical role in helping carriers achieve agile aircraft configurations. 

"Airlines repurposed their aircraft by adding cargo space to flight cabins and some added extra space around passengers and families to apply maximum safety measures. Key to this agility was the seamless integration between airline systems from inventory to reservation, departure control, and offer management; all core capabilities of the Amadeus Altéa Passenger Service System (PSS), " he explained. 

He suggested that fully integrated systems like Altéa PSS also mean that even if unforeseen events like last-minute aircraft changes occur during operational windows, airlines can immediately and automatically reseat passengers and adjust weight and load balance. With end-to-end automated aircraft configuration and reconfiguration, airlines avoid expensive, time-consuming and resource-intensive manual intervention.

Collaboration and consolidation in aviation

Koubaa said It was likely that consolidation and concentration will lead to a major industry reshaping in all regions. 

"Some airline groups are expected to become stronger, accelerating strategic investments, while others may not recover.

"We also anticipate a number of significant changes in the aviation landscape with new codeshare and interline agreements between different parties. 

"Smart airline inventory management solutions, like Altéa, use advanced availability management techniques, dynamic customer identification and sophisticated airline policy controls to automate flight schedules, codeshare agreements, re-accommodation and seating. This helps maximise airline network yield, increasing revenues and improving efficiency."

Explore smart revenue models

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released an analysis showing that the airline industry's global debt could rise to $550-billion by year-end; a $120-billion increase over debt levels at the start of 2020.

"With these alarming numbers, it is clear that modern, state of the art revenue management will be crucial for airlines to move quickly to recovery, " he said. 

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