By that time we expect that all those at real risk from covid will have been vaccinated but we all still depend on the integrity of our guests to cancel their travel and attendance if they know they are sick.
Looking at our industry it is early to comment on the ‘recovery’ but as reported in conversations with you all over the past days it is clear that things are moving and activity is increasing.
At the macro level at least one airline is now hiring and training pilots and cabin crew. On the 22nd February, England with a population of 56m, became the first large western nation to announce its plan to re-open, in their case a four-stage process with 5 week gaps to allow checking between each. It is interesting to note that within hours of that announcement overseas holiday bookings surged 5-6x those of the previous week with July to September ‘heavily booked’. There is an expectation that we will see a similar response elsewhere as infections fall and restrictions are lifted.
Though nothing is certain as this virus has proved over the last year, airlines and operators know that if they are to service a potentially reasonable spike in bookings over the summer attention soon needs to be paid to training for a safe return to the air.
Sadly that ‘return to the air’ is not going as the airlines need it to.
In the space of just three weeks since January 30th CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, Forbes, the LA Times, Daily Telegraph and many more daily papers, in all languages and across the world have reported on pilots claiming that lack of flying time and lack of preparedness have caused them to make errors in returning to the cockpit.
The latest comments on this issue from Captain Sullenberger can be seen here bit.ly/2NEXp18
Though not related to training issues as far as we can see two aircraft engines on consecutive days, ‘showering debris’ over those below, in Colorado and The Netherlands do not help the public perception and sadly the resulting grounding of the Pratt and Whitney 777 fleet was followed today by an FAA airworthiness directive (AD) concerning the Boeing 737 NG and MAX family aircraft, after reports of cracks on the stop fitting assembly of the forward entry door.
This all comes on top of the recent, lingering, and heavily publicized 737 Max debacle.
The global airline community cannot afford to have confidence in its safety undermined so it is important to emphasize, given the opportunity, the excellent, quality of airline training and, quite possibly that extra training will be offered to deal with the unprecedented issues we face.
WATS will provide a perfect opportunity to share thinking and create the latest and best practices in training at this most testing time for our industry.
Everyone in the airline community has suffered heavily over 2020 and far too many have lost their jobs. To help airlines attend WATS this year and aid in the recovery we have waived fees for 300 airline personnel and with the support of training and equipment suppliers we expect to offer an event that is of practical value to the entire training sector.
Join us in June and let’s get the entire ‘airline show’ back on the road.
Andy Smith, CEO and Publisher, Halldale Group