Recent years have been a boom time for commercial aviation but those of us with a long experience in the industry can remember when there was some turbulence – 9/11, SARS, oil prices, economic crises – when growth stagnated or even stopped. However, this industry is remarkably resilient and the inexorable growth continues.
Coronavirus is possibly the biggest international crisis to hit the world apart from a major war. This time, commercial aviation has really suffered, with mass groundings of passenger aircraft as scheduled services were stopped, often at very short notice. In the short term, many people were stranded away from home and had to be repatriated, offering some relief to those airlines who managed to get some charter work. Now, the skies are a lot emptier, although freight flying has massively increased, with passenger aircraft being used to carry belly cargo, or even in overhead bins and on seats.
While no one is sure when the pandemic will be over, there is one aspect of its effects that offers a small gleam of hope. For the first time ever, legally enforced social isolation measures have locked people away from family and friends and, despite connections via social media in all its guises, face-to-face contact (and actual contact) is being missed desperately.
When restrictions are lifted, it is likely that there will be an immediate upsurge
in demand for air travel as people want to reconnect with each other. Many postponed or cancelled holidays will be taken, and businesses will want to physically check overseas subsidiaries as well as re-establish relationships with clients.
For the MRO industry, the interim period will see a struggle to get by with care and maintenance of all those parked aircraft, but there will an upsurge in work to get them back in the air at very short notice, perhaps with new operators as some airlines fail to survive.
One unfortunate aspect of social distancing has been the suspension of training courses, so the next influx of urgently needed young technicians and engineers will have to be delayed. However, there should be plenty to do when they get there.
In the meantime, the Real Response Media team offer our best wishes to all our readers and advertisers. Keep safe and we hope to catch up with you again later in the year.