2021: A signal for the aviation industry to enter stand-by
Liviu Constantin, Development Director at Craiova International Airport, looks beyond COVID-19 and shares his perspective on restarting the industry and re-igniting the human desire for travel and escapism.
Credit: Craiova International Airport
The interval between 2021 and 2022 is going to be a period of travels, holidays and everyday escapes. In an uncertain and too urban world, we are seeing people connected more and more online, increasingly digitally isolated – online working, living in loneliness. They will all feel the need to socialise, to travel and to practically interact with other people. The pandemic has given many people a growing desire of ‘escaping’, and I, for one, cannot wait for the flights to enter the pre-crisis norm chart as soon as possible.
The pandemic has given many people a growing desire of ‘escaping’”
This year, 2021, distinguishes itself through this type of behaviour, more strongly than ever. The pandemic and online working has opened the minds of many people to create competitive opportunities in business, as well as in their personal lives. We’ve all come to the conclusion that we need the ‘real life’ that most of us were deprived of in 2020.
For airlines, airports and passengers, there is clearly a new trend which can be associated with the negative and positive events that took place, in different contexts and different places, that indicates a possible future change of direction. The COVID-19 pandemic was a warning sign for humanity and reminded us of just how vulnerable we truly are. We need to learn something from this: we need to be more careful with ourselves, with the environment and we need to protect us as humans, as employees, as passengers. I think that nature has already taken its tribute.
As vaccinations take place, the hope and trust of people is exponentially increasing. There is greater financial availability for travel and tourism”
As vaccinations take place, the hope and trust of people is exponentially increasing. There is greater financial availability for travel and tourism – savings from those trips that didn’t take place in 2020 thanks to the pandemic and travel restrictions. Those already vaccinated are planning tourist trips for the winter/ summer season – an extremely positive thing for aviation and a signal for the industry to enter stand-by.
I believe that we need the support of everyone, globally, to support the aviation industry, the only one that ensures the comfort of travel in relation to time. In addition to government support for national airlines, I believe that an effort is needed from all ‘former’ passengers and tourists to return to air travel for the resuscitation of this industry. Ultimately, I believe that it is our moral duty to do so. We all need these extremely beneficial and important aviation services, regardless of the context. I believe that free movement and travel are a right that has been acquired over a long time, with difficulty, by previous generations and should not be questioned in any context, even if the current one involves a pandemic.
I consider this pandemic to be turning, or at least it is necessary to turn it, to a natural state of normalcy. People need to travel as naturally as ever”
I consider this pandemic to be turning, or at least it is necessary to turn it, to a natural state of normalcy. People need to travel as naturally as ever. Obviously, measures to check the health of travellers are in place and should be maintained, but I would like to see these condensed to a quick test performed at the airport before the trip. We, as passengers, need to be able to say yes. The need for socialisation exists – we need to be able to enjoy everything: life, birthdays, concerts, festivals, new places and people, trips, the joy of others and of many small things.
I believe that, here, an important role belongs to tourism operators, to get more involved and unite in our interest of those who travel, of passengers – in personal or professional interest, but primarily on their behalf as commercial entities. We don’t want to lose them, they are ours and they are also part of this aviation industry. We want to travel, they need to exist. A common voice can determine positive changes. Alliances in tourism, in airlines, would be opportune, at least for a period of time, to avoid bankruptcy.
Tourism is an important part of the economy of many countries, but quarantine only affects it almost irreparably”
A year has passed in which all of us have lost something important, from family and friends to emotional health and money. Freedom, be it even of movement, should remain a fundamental right that we should not lose so easily. Tourism is an important part of the economy of many countries, but quarantine only affects it almost irreparably. Fast tests, from my point of view, should be the only way to manage and facilitate free movement.
I have high hopes for things to return to normal by the summer season. From an airline perspective, globally, I can only see negative things on the one hand, but also many positives in the new context. There were a number of aviation workers fired as a result of restructuring who have done a phenomenal thing. They have set up small, ideal, more flexible, more dynamic airlines, debt-free with low leasing costs and advantageous contracts, which already operate according to the present wishes of passengers, which has led to true success.
A 100 per cent load factor for an exotic destination is something that you can only dream of for a start-up. I can’t help but remember the Romanian airline which was created during the pandemic. The first Air Operator Certificate (AOC) issued in Europe during a pandemic was obtained by AnimaWings. I can only rejoice in their courage, and we are waiting for their charter and regular flights to Craiova International Airport (CRA).
Mature airlines are already in great financial difficulty… their place being gradually taken by these small niche airlines who are more dynamic, closer and more attentive to the needs of passengers in the new post-pandemic context”
I encourage investors around the world to such start-up initiatives. This will be the future. Mature airlines are already in great financial difficulty due to accumulated historical debts and cumbersome decisions. They are slowly, but surely, losing their market segment, their place being gradually taken by these small niche airlines who are more dynamic, closer and more attentive to the needs of passengers in the new post-pandemic context.
From the perspective of airports, I can only rejoice that it is gradually returning to a state of normalcy. People are still eager to travel to other countries, change their environment and escape from this ‘cage’. I believe a lot of the medical measures at airports should cease, as they will negatively influence the comfort of passengers and their desire to travel by plane. There were enough controls before the pandemic that required time spent in line, a few hours waiting at the airport. I believe that much better information and more active communication is needed with passengers and regional communities, both from airports and travel companies, as well as from air operators.
Liviu Constantin is the Development Director for Craiova International Airport in Romania. He has been working in the aviation industry for more than 23 years in top management positions. Throughout his career, Constantin has focused on the new technologies of global distribution systems and the digitalisation of the Romanian private and state aviation industry.