A Stateside view

21/08/2020

The US is at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. But, a Healthy Skies Act offers hope says Florida-based, aviation leadership coach, Desiree Perez

I am not sharing any breaking news by saying that the last few months have posed one of the largest challenges to our industry in our lifetime. With the forecasts looking rather grim as well, recovery is happening slower than anticipated.

This has been difficult in the domestic market primarily because of the resurgence of Covid hotspots throughout the US. Internationally, we are still experiencing widespread travel bans and warnings that do not allow for travel between the US and other major continents. In many cases, the infection rates in the US have earned us closed borders in other countries.

29% of all US aircraft continue to remain idle resulting in crowded parking spaces at airports. Most airlines are parking widebody and older aircraft as well as reducing headcounts to help contain the cash burn.

Prior to the pandemic, the aviation and its related industries made up 5% of the GDP and supported approximately 10.6 million jobs.

Here are some of the impacts that Covid-19 has created for the aviation industry in North America:

·       Making historic capacity cuts

·       Utilizing passenger planes on cargo only missions

·       Cutting executive compensation, implementing voluntary leave and early retirements

·       Freezing hiring and non-essential spending

·       Consolidating footprint at airport facilities

·       Simplifying onboard product

·       Negotiations with vendors

·       Deferring aircraft deliveries

·       Raising funds vial capital markets

·       Selling or mortgaging aircrafts

·       Suspending capital return programs  

A look around our industry allows us to see the widespread devastation that Covid has caused.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. As of 16th July 2020, a new bill called the ‘Healthy Skies Act’ has been introduced. We know that people need to be able to move in order to restore the economy and air travel plays a key role in this.

One of the key symptoms of Covid-19 is a fever of over 100.4°F. The ‘Healthy Skies Act’ is therefore test driving the temperature measurement of passengers at the checkpoint at ten airports by evaluating how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can conduct safe and unobtrusive temperature checks.  Ultimately, TSA could help in slowing the spread of the virus and any other viruses that create fever.

Studies have shown that it will take time for passengers to gain confidence and trust in travel once again. However, this can be a first step towards creating this trust and confidence.