LONDON – Typically, medium outlets such as Airways and others look at the perspectives of industry analysts about the current state of the industry. What we don’t really do is look at the view of one key component of aviation. The enthusiasts.
Airways spoke to Julie, also known as Speedbird Julie (SJ) on Twitter, who is one of many avid enthusiasts in the industry.
Julie is an investment professional as well as a profound lover of this industry, who takes any chance at going into an airport lounge or going abroad to different destinations around the world.
We asked her a series of questions about the state of the industry, from things such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and much more.
JF: Julie, thank you for taking part in this interview. I noticed recently that you flew to Cairo (CAI). What were the procedures like in order to facilitate your travel during this pandemic?
SJ: My Cairo trip was fairly straightforward. I had to present a negative Covid test, obtained -72 hours prior to entry. This was checked by BA at check-in through their computer and again on entry to Egypt.
My temperature was also checked before entering the country. Proof of travel insurance was also required.
Masks were also mandatory on board but I guess most, if not all, of your readers will be aware of this! When in Cairo my temperature was checked every time I entered an international hotel.
JF: As an investment professional yourself, when do you think recovery of the industry will take place?
SJ: The industry will fully recover when business travel returns.
It’s difficult to say when this will happen and many people have said that corporate travel will never return to 2019 levels. However, this was also predicted following 9/11 and the Great Financial Crash.
We know that following these events there was a full recovery in business travel so I’m hopeful that although this is a different type of shock we’ll still see a strong recovery.
JF: With BREXIT on the way, what level of disturbance do you forecast for the airline industry, particularly in the UK?
SJ: This is an extremely hot potato in the UK right now so I think declining to comment is the smart thing to do on this one, sorry.
Julie’s comments regarding this remain true with a lot of people in the industry, particularly with such political volatility that is ongoing at this time.
JF: What is the one thing, as an enthusiast, that you are missing about the industry pre-COVID?
SJ: The one thing that really stands out is priority boarding.
The lounge is closed at my local airport for now (Glasgow – GLA) and it’s a real pain to hang around to board instead of boarding when you get to the gate.
JF: With airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic cutting back on its structure, what risk of further downfall do you feel there currently is?
SJ: I think commercial aviation will gradually get back to some kind of normality over the next few years. As I mentioned above the return of corporate travel is key.
We might have to wait a few years for this to happen so it will be a challenge for some airlines like BA that have a very high number of premium seats on their aircraft.
This could be good news for leisure travelers, as airlines have typically kept their newest steel and best products for the business-type destinations.
As they pivot towards the leisure type destinations for a few years at least leisure travellers could be in for a pleasant surprise.
JF: Is there anything else you wish to say to our readers about COVID and the industry?
SJ: We’ve been discussing the outlook for the industry and I do think it’s really important to say that this is very much a people industry.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to be cared for by some extraordinary people at BA and it breaks my heart to see so many of them forced to leave the careers they are so passionate about.
I hope this vaccine comes along as quickly as possible and that these wonderful people will be back in the skies where they belong.
Similarities with the Analysts
What Julie is saying, especially with her expertise in investment, does highlight a lot of what media in the industry are saying about restoring the industry.
From previous enthusiasts that Airways has spoken to in the past, this reflects a lot on what governments and institutions need to do in order to bring some life back into an already beaten-down industry.
As Julie has said, the industry can hope that the vaccine is not just safe, but also rapid in its distribution in order to bring some level of normality back into aviation, but also into general life as a whole.
Featured Image: Masks have been a key component in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images