The travel industry for 2021 and beyond already looks different from 2020. The way on how we travel to different countries has changed. From negative tests to travel corridors, these measures are here to stay.
For many, 2021 is the beginning of the aviation industry’s transformation. However, COVID brought the forced change towards the aviation system. The changes are probably here to stay for better or worse.
Here is a couple of things I foresee for 2021:
More patience is needed to travel
If you traveled during the COVID era you have an adventurous spirit. However, with so many individual requirements for traveling, it could give you a sensation of becoming a guinea pig.
Apart from taking the time to get through the security screening, there will also be a health screening. Taking more of our precious time, going to the terminal will require leaving the house with additional time on our hands.
Health Passports and Testing becomes mandatory
Health Security will become a priority in curbing COVID transmissions overseas. I see the rise of the electronic health passport. Apps like the Commonpass (a project in a venture with the Common Project and the World Economic Forum) will bring Health Security accessible while maintaining privacy.
The apps are running in Beta Testing. Many of these Apps are already telling authorities which people can or cannot continue with their journey.
Testing will be part of that surveillance. People without a vaccine or a negative test certainly won’t travel.
Fees return with an act of revenge beyond today
I was a consultant before starting my journalism career. 2020 was a year that certainly resulted in hurt for the aviation industry.
Ancillary revenue streams appear far away on the horizon for 2021. However, airlines cannot live without those fees. Sometime in 2022-2023 passengers should feel the backlash from this.
The industry would want to recoup it on a style seen in Star Wars Episode III: “Revenge of the Sith”, which was the transformational period from the Galactic Republic to the Galactic Empire. As Senator Amidala of the Galactic Republic would say: “So that’s how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”
The same thing would happen to the airline industry.
2020 was the passenger’s break. 2021 could still be the passenger’s break, although that window will close rapidly unless the rollout dilutes even more.
I already see increases in bag fees, upgrades, and other ancillaries. If traveling, prepare those wallets beyond 2021, although I wouldn’t be surprised by revenue sources changes.
Competition keeps the industry in check
Unfortunately, COVID placed a burden on new entrants not seen since JetBlue and Virgin America after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
COVID has placed a strain on one new name, Breeze Airways, and the two iterations of Midwest Express Airlines and Eastern.
I’m enthusiastic about Breeze as David Neeleman (Former Founder/CEO of JetBlue) is the Entrepreneur to watch here.
I don’t have any additional details other than Breeze could seriously hurt JetBlue prospects when back on the domestic market.
Business Travel will be weak in 2021, possibly coming back in 2022
Zoom as the Teleconferencing program really overshot the Airline industry combined market cap in 2020. 2021 is no exception; people are now comfortable looking at monitors, signing documents electronically, meeting, and becoming more productive.
While people may return to the skies, the large numbers of pre-COVID passengers (I believe) are gone.
Partnerships and Retrenching for Airlines
Indeed, partnerships and retrenching is the way for airlines to ride a long term storm. Partnerships include the American Airlines and JetBlue Airways Partnership in the Northeast. Furthermore, the American and Alaska Airlines partnership in the Northwest is a strategy of collaboration without taking on the competition.
Look for additional types of airline partnerships in the United States and Overseas.
Mergers and Acquisitions Opportunities Available with a Caveat
The Haggle of International Airlines Group with Air Europa is a signal that mergers are available if the merging parties are willing to slash their premiums.
In the United States, it could happen with new entrants among established airlines. However, this won’t be possible until the worst of the crisis has passed. Airline loan guarantees expire in March.
However, Overseas opportunities abound. Interesting combinations are ripe for the taking.
Private Jetting looks to enter the airline market boutique style
This is the news I have been craving to discuss. Private jet companies are looking for dissatisfied travelers, then picking them one by one (literally)!
Companies are slashing their prices as health-aware passengers look for alternatives as there is no business jetting.
JSX (from Jet Suite), XO (from parent company Vistara Jets), and Up are entrants looking to give passengers the royal treatment. They do so while displaying trust in their operational health and security procedures.
Also, Blade Urban Air Mobility is tantalizing prospects of partnership in cities like Miami and Aspen. Prospects are looming with expansion to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Burbank.
2021 looks like a gold rush for aviation if done right
If there is such a thing as a Rebel Alliance in aviation, it is lead by David Neeleman and the Private Jet Companies looking for boutique clients across the nation.
For established airlines, the game becomes how quickly the vaccine can be deployed. The faster the deployment, the faster the return of airlines asking for more fee collections.
Personally, I don’t think I’ll be returning to a commercial airliner any time soon. Even with the health sanitation procedures, I prefer paying for on-demand traveling at a fixed price. This, in turn, is in many cases cheaper than a commercial flight.
COVID was relentless, but it allowed disruptors in the fight against established airlines.
I believe that if the disruptors play this right it could mean the dawn of Affordable Private Jetting.
I have additional comments on my new Telegram channel Aviation Trends on Private Jetting and the State of Travel for the Aviation Industry. If you like it Subscribe to the channel and let your friends know.
How do you think travel will unfold in 2021? You can contact Alex Martinez Rivera below.