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Aviation – will it ever be the same again?
Adrian Leopard 674

Aviation – will it ever be the same again?

In the eyes of the public, confusion rules okay

As a former pilot myself, albeit not carrying fare-paying passengers, the future of aviation is something in which I maintain considerable interest. When the Covid-19 crisis got started, we heard all about how international travel was effectively coming to a somewhat abrupt, albeit temporary, halt. Citizens were getting stranded the world over, flights were being cancelled, people could not get home. Since then we are led to believe that the industry has contracted yet further.


Take a look at this site – it is a live radar picture of the world. Fascinating since there appear to be a lot of aeroplanes in the sky! You can even see the flight id.


However, whilst there is still considerable activity, probably mainly in respect of freight, the writing is on the wall. Once again it looks very much like it will be yet another case of survival of the fittest but even that survival is going to be difficult. Aviation was already in trouble before Covid-19 emerged but now the added pressure is going to be quite devastating. It is considered possible that may be as many as 50% of the world’s airlines will collapse over the next year or so. The trouble with aviation is that you are in it for the long haul [excuse the pun]. Aircraft leases are inevitably going to be long term and they are very expensive.


Imagine what it is like at the moment for the industry – aeroplane “carparks” like Bournemouth airport; aircraft stacking up everywhere because they are not in the air. Even brand new aircraft are being laid up in the desert.


The larger operators again may well get through but what will the future hold? Airlines are going to have to recover their losses to get back on to their feet and their future business is going to have to be profitable which suggests that prices will very soon increase dramatically.


And there is another problem. Air transport pilots have to undergo strenuous revalidation procedures and if a pilot has not flown in the six months since his last validation, he will have to undergo flight reviews with an instructor in an aircraft, not a simulator. Imagine an airline having to re-validate all their pilots at once, and with the anticipated lack of demand, probably many older pilots will simply leave the profession, leaving younger inexperienced pilots to take over.


In the UK will there be room for both Ryanair and Easyjet? Don’t hold your breath but “cheap flights” may well be a thing of the past.


However, there has been one benefit. I am sure people will remember how the air cleared itself up at the time of 9/11 because all aircraft in the USA were grounded. That was very marked but by comparison the present situation is remarkable when you think how the contrails have all but disappeared from the sky. Perhaps a reduction in aviation would be beneficial. And what was that about a third runway at Heathrow? I am sure Boris will be relieved that he does not have to lie down in front of the bulldozer.


Sit back and ponder how your future travel plans may be formulated in the light of the circumstances. Staycation may sound more attractive after all.


I must thank Captain Simon Dufton for his assistance with the facts behind this blog; he it was who trained me to fly back in 1990. He was one of the first to be laid off as he worked in China. I am sure he will be keeping us updated as things move forward.


Adrian Leopard 10-04-20


Photo David Wheater

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