With coronavirus likely to have a lasting impact on aviation, what must agents be aware of when it comes to dealing with airlines in future? James Chapple reports on the World Aviation Festival’s latest Covid-19 webinar with SimpliFlying chief executive Shashank Nigam.
The simple answer, says Nigam, is yes – it really is. US airline traffic has slumped 50%; it’s five times lower than it was in during the 2008/09 financial crisis (-10.9%), and lower than after 9/11 (-18.9%). When will things recover? “It’s anyone’s guess,” says Nigam.
Airline advertising is down 99%, according to Nigam. “If no planes are taking off, why advertise?” he says. The question he feels is whether airlines should proactively seek to build brand confidence at this time, or save money now and spend later. Whatever they choose, airlines mustn’t “splutter” back into life.
Nigam believes airline marketing will revolve around three Ss – safety, sanitation and sustainability. Sanitation, he says, will quickly become passengers’ greatest concern. “People will not board a flight unless it is clean,” says Nigam, who believes sanitation will soon feature in flight safety videos.
Already, some airlines like Singapore Airlines and Emirates have strengthened PPE provisions for crew, while Delta Air Lines, says Nigam, has tried to “own” cleanliness.
Nigam also thinks cabin crew may even be given the power to delay take-off if they do not feel the aircraft is sufficiently clean. “Things are going to change dramatically.”