Like many other industries across the economy, the airline industry took a massive hit in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. We saw massive job cuts and bankruptcies. At the same time, the situation provided some opportunities for new innovations. Tough situations bring out the best problem solvers. Here are some 2021 trends to keep your eye on as we progress into the second year of flying during a pandemic.
In an effort to generate more revenue, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region started offering round-trip flights to nowhere. Qantas, ANA, China Airlines, and a few others in the region started offering scenic flights. Qantas’ first “pleasure flights” took off from Sydney and showed passengers some of Australia’s most iconic sites from the air. The 7-hour journey included low-level flyovers of the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Byron Bay, and the Sydney Harbor.
Airport Rapid Testing
In October, United began trialing rapid COVID-19 testing for passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii. It allowed them to bypass quarantine requirements and delivered results in just 15 minutes. The company is looking to expand rapid testing to other airports throughout the country in 2021. Rapid testing is thought to be the key to opening international air travel back to pre-pandemic levels.
Space has always been at a premium on airliners, but in the age of COVID-19 sectioned off private cabins will be a highly desirable luxury that airlines will charge top dollar for. Air France is one of the first to the game offering first-class private areas. Seat shields for economy and premium economy are also in development and will likely roll out sometime in 2021.
Although frequent sanitation is the new normal everywhere, especially inside aircraft, one of the top priorities in 2021 is making aircraft interiors safer using anti-viral/bacterial coatings. American Airlines is leading the way with SurfaceWise2, which is being applied to aircraft interiors through electronic spray systems. The coating creates an invisible barrier on surfaces, which physically breaks down and kills virus cells. This should go a long way in protecting passengers and staff against on surface virus transmission.
The roll-out of biometric technology has been accelerated by the pandemic. Ethiopian Airlines’ new terminal at Addis Ababa and Singapore’s famous Changi International have started embracing contactless gateways that are unlocked by passenger smartphones and biometrics like facial and iris recognition. Dubai International airport, Emirates has unveiled a “biometric path” that allows travelers to check-in, complete immigration, and board their flights.
Ready to Take Flight in 2021?
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