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With longer queues, temperature checks and mandatory face masks, air travel will not be the same
Heathrow Airport has increased its environmental charges by 7%, incentivising airlines to use their newest aircraft to minimise the impact on local communities under the flight path. Julian Turner spoke to Nathalie Herbelles of Airports Council International to find out more
Travellers itching to explore again will be thrilled with the news that flight schedules are gradually resuming. However, they could be discouraged by higher fares and arduous air travel processes.
New hygiene measures will lengthen the airport process
As major airlines are resuming flights across the world, questions have arisen about how they will continue with social distancing and hygiene measures that are now in everyday life. In India, domestic flights are permitted, with a long list of instructions in tow. Passengers must download a government tracing app, agree to thermal screening for temperature checks, in some cases provide health certificates and wear appropriate protective equipment such as face masks and gloves, to be able to travel within the country. Flights to larger cities such as Mumbai and Delhi could take longer to resume due to the risks present.
These measures will be difficult to implement at a uniform standard across global airports. The number of flights per day could have to decrease due to terminal building capacities shrinking with social distancing measures now in place, while new procedures within the terminal building will have to be installed, along with education for passengers on the ‘new normal’ when travelling.
New terminal measures may mean longer queues and wait times, so a relaxing air travel experience could be something of the past. The time at which passengers are required to arrive at an airport could be earlier, such as two to three hours before departure, disrupting travellers’ schedules and potentially causing them to miss flights if they have not adhered to the new airport rules.
Getting rid of the middle seat is not financially viable
In order to help with social distancing measures on aircraft, European airline easyJet announced that it would not be selling tickets for the middle seat upon its aircraft. Although this may be good news for passengers and social distancing rules, competing airline Ryanair commented that it will not be financially viable for its own airline.
Not selling tickets for the middle seat will cut 33% of revenues, something which is not feasible for airlines who are currently struggling with immense cash burn and dramatic drops in revenue. There is hope for passengers that, while restrictions are still in place, the initial lack of demand will allow for social distancing to be possible on an aircraft.
Increased fares may be likely
As airlines are making every effort to try and get back on their feet following the global shutdown of travel, they will have to look for opportunities to raise extra revenue that has been lost during this period.
Airlines should look to refigure fare structures, including charging for legroom seats and baggage if they do not already do so, for flights to increase profit.
Fares that have increased too much will detract consumers from returning to travel just yet. There is no doubt that those with cancelled bookings and travel vouchers will want to fly soon. However, tighter recession-hit budgets might not be big enough to foot the probable higher bill of future travel.
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