There is no doubt that the aviation industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. Globally, airlines lost an estimated revenue of $370 billion in 2020 alone. Passenger traffic dropped from a high of 4.723 billion in 2020 (Pre-COVID-19) to a low of 1.807 billion (Post-COVID-19) in the same year. But as they say, when you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. Eventually, the industry did recover with the latest figure pegged at 3.78 billion passengers traveling in 2022.
8 Airline Industry Trends to Look Forward to in 2023
Experts are highly optimistic about the aviation industry despite the threat of another recession this year. As the world eases restrictions, people who were cooped up in their homes were suddenly free to travel—and traveled they did. The surge in passengers surprised most airports and airlines, leading to airport fiascos in Europe as well as America.
With 2023 gearing up for another “endless summer” for the aviation industry, plans have to be put in place to avoid another chaotic airport scene. The usually predictable travel season goes out the window with passenger numbers continuing to rise well into the 4th quarter of last year. For this reason, staffing shortages have to be addressed, including pilot recruitment and training from some of the most renowned flight school in the country. The best is yet to come for the airline industry, and here are the trends to look out for:
Rebound of the Airline Industry
While the passenger numbers are up, the industry has yet to fully regain the peak status of 2020’s pre-COVID-19 number. The forecast is promising, though, with the passenger demand rising to 85.5% of the 2019 level. Moreover, the airline industry is expecting a return to profitability this year. Air carriers are predicting an estimated $4.7 billion net profit by the end of the year. This is despite fears of a recession and the current inflation affecting fuel prices.
Prevalent Use of Advanced Biometric Technology
The use of biometric information to facilitate faster and more efficient identification and screening will become more prevalent in the very near future. Right now, fingerprints and facial recognition are already being used for faster immigration processing and boarding, but soon, other applications will be added such as self-check-ins, self-bag-drop, and security screening.
Emphasis on Sustainable Travel
As more millennials and Gen-Z travel by air, sustainability becomes a factor that can affect the airline’s bottom line. Some studies show how the younger generation of consumers prefers supporting businesses that take their environmental impact seriously.
In the aviation sector, sustainability is driving changes — from airport design and operation to the use of sustainable aviation fuels. More recently, the global aviation industry declared a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which means passengers can expect more sustainable travel experiences in the months to come.
Rise of the Blended Traveler
One of the more positive effects of the pandemic is that it popularized work-from-home or remote work schemes. This flexible work arrangement opened up opportunities for people to travel and escape the monotony of their routines.
Instead of traveling purely for leisure or business, digital nomads can bring their laptops for work while enjoying a drink at the beach. Airlines have seen this dramatic rise in business trips that include a weekend, suggesting that this blended travel trend is here to stay.
Continuation of the Health and Sanitation Protocols
Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic is still not over. However, as everyone learns to live with an endemic COVID-19, sanitation protocols in airports and airplanes would still be in place to prevent other communicable diseases. Reminders to observe proper hygiene can go a long way to preventing another pandemic from happening.
Shift to Premium Seats
During the pandemic, consumers were able to save money, which industry insiders think would be spent more on experiences and travel instead of retail. The prediction is that consumers would prioritize comfort and spend money on the premium-economy cabins, instead of the cheaper economy seats. That’s why some airlines are positioning themselves as premium airlines, converting their seats to accommodate passengers looking for more comfortable seats.
Smart Use of Data Analytics
Airlines usually undervalue and underutilize their treasure trove of customer data when they can actually use them to gain a significant advantage over the competition. Analysis of real-time data allows airlines to provide an agile response, resulting in better customer service and efficient operations.
Addition of More Ancillary Services
Bundling ancillary services with airline tickets not only adds to the airline’s profitability but also enhances the customer’s overall travel experience as well. Aside from the usual baggage check-ins, seat selection options, and meals, airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi services, hotel accommodations, and even transportation from the airport to the hotel. The airlines offering these services as a package provide comfort and convenience, which passengers would appreciate. This year, travelers can expect more of these bundled offers when booking their tickets.
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The future of the airline industry is bright and promising as another year rolls by. Innovations and improved services will lead to growth, allowing this sector to recover and flourish — this year and in the years to come.