INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and a few months into the vaccine rollout, demand for air travel remains anemic. Globally, passenger traffic was down 72% in January compared with the same period in 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association.
The IATA warned last month that airlines as a group might burn through as much as $95 billion in cash this year, about double its previous forecast.
So what does the future of air travel look like?
The former head of United Airlines Robert Crandell says the government may establish rules governing maximum seating density on airplanes and minimum service requirements for smaller airports.
Expect more technology as well.
Amercian Airlines is trying to persuade the TSA to allow facial recognition and mobile apps to make check in “touchless.”
That will likely drive up the cost of flying.
Also, air industry experts agree business travel has been damaged for good with Zoom taking a chunk of it.
University of Nebraska Associate Professor of Aviation Becky Lutte says airlines probably won’t require a COVID-19 vaccine to travel but international is different.
Some countries have already said they will require proof of vaccination to enter.
The forecast for an industry comeback is about 2023 or 2024, to get back to pre-COVID levels of travel. The future still looks strong. Boeing is forecasting the need for over 43,000 new aircraft deliveries globally over the next 20 years.