MIAMI – It is no surprise that airlines worldwide are exploring all possible ways out of the extreme crisis that COVID-19 has caused.

In the next few months, experts predict a concentration on leisure trips and less on business travel, according to Italian travel new outlet After the pandemic, La Stampa says, people are going to want to take a break, and that’s what airlines will have to concentrate on.

Recently, Lufthansa (LH) revealed that the pandemic caused a 75% traffic loss. But signs of improvement, notably from Great Britain, have already led to a substantial increase in bookings to fly abroad in some tourist hotspots thanks to the recent results to stave off the epidemic.

It’s a trend to watch, says the report as per its experts’ opinions. Far more tickets will be sold for sun and fun trips than for corporate meetings, which the travel news site says will not return to 2019 levels for another ten years.

Lufthansa Airbus A321-131 [D-AIRY] | Photo: © Nick Van Der Hook

Analysis from CNBC

“European carriers will focus on leisure travel,” says Adrian Yanoshik, a shareholder analyst at CNBC quoted in the aforementioned report. He says that it is a tactical response that just follows people’s flow.

“It is quite unlikely that someone would travel to or from London to attend a meeting one day after Covid and Zoom meetings. Rickard Gustafson, Scandinavian Airlines (BU) managing director, thinks that businesses ‘will be more flexible in adapting their business to seasonality than they currently have.”

Therefore, the market that previously only appeared to be reserved for Ryanair (FR), easyJet (EC), and many others will have to compete with operators such as LHand British Airways (BA), whose emphasis has been on passengers with suits and ties rather than bathing suits.

And so, the era of business class, premium seats, and loyalty cards seems to be ending, at least now, and planes still need to be adapted to cater to the new reality.

Business-class will thus decrease as smaller aircraft will be used to have greater elasticity of operation. In terms of cost, it will be even more inconvenient, which seemed unlikely, and the FR model will likely be emulated.

Photo: Marco Macca/Airways.

A Way Forward for the Tourism Industry

Airlines expect Europe to introduce a vaccine passport in the near future to distinguish those safe from the virus from those at risk. Since it is the only instrument that can guarantee all passengers a safe journey, the passport is seen as a vital element in the resumption of flights.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is currently developing a digital platform for passengers to upload their health records, but a neutral body will be needed to certify passengers’ health.

And individual countries, such as the Mediterranean countries, which are typically holiday destinations, should do something as well, the La Stampa report says. The vaccinated British were already informed that they were welcome by Greece, but that was not the case for Italy, France or Spain.

It makes sense that vaccination will be a decisive factor in determining how leisure travel is going to look like come Summer season, as the leisure market opening is tied to the success of the tourism sector, which is also in a major crisis.

Featured image: Marco Macca/Airways