LONDON – AviationSource is proud to announce the start of a new weekly series, called The Editor’s Corner.
The Editor’s Corner is going to be an op-ed series from AviationSource Editor-in-Chief James Field, who is going to give his thoughts (Maybe controversial) on all things going on in the aviation industry.
James will be starting things off with his first topic being: The Industry Isn’t Ready for Summer 2022 Demand.
Without further ado, let’s get into it…
The Industry Isn’t Ready For Summer 2022 Demand
With the Summer season officially starting, it is clear that the industry is not ready to cope with such demand.
Now, this doesn’t just apply to one part of the sector, but rather the whole sector itself.
News stories that AviationSource and other outlets have reported in the last couple of weeks speak for themselves.
And it is hardly surprising. We are slowly coming out of a pandemic and we have a conflict that is involving global superpowers.
The Ongoing Fuel Crisis…
The ongoing fuel crisis, which has increased in severity thanks to the Ukraine Crisis, has been something airlines & airports have had to approach with caution.
Just this week, we have had two stories come out of the United States, which have involved Austin-Bergstrom International Airport issuing fuel shortage alerts as well as JetBlue having to ax over two dozen flights due to the price of fuel.
Demand for fuel in aviation is only going to continue to rise, especially from the long-haul perspective as well where Russian airspace is effectively blocked for a high number of countries globally.
Take the news coming out of Cathay Pacific for example. The carrier is looking at potentially operating a staggering 10,300+ mile routing for its New York-Hong Kong flights.
Those aircraft will use more fuel, irrespective of fuel efficiency on the likes of the Airbus A350-1000 and other aircraft, which will begin to place a pinch.
Infrastructure is Waning…
With the Austin-Bergstrom news, it is clear that infrastructure is waning.
Even though the airport is building an additional fuel storage facility, such an uptick in demand post-pandemic should have been anticipated from the start.
Thinking about the future is an important thing, something that Hong Kong Airport is rightly doing through the use of its 3-Runway System (3RS) program.
Aeroporti di Roma is thinking ahead as well for example, especially with the new cooperative deal it has signed with Trenitalia to offer better passenger connectivity out of its airports.
We also have the British Airways IT failure of March 30, which seems to be the 900th time this has happened in the last few years.
Airlines, airports, and other parts of the sector were too busy focusing on cuts and drawbacks when it could have taken the time to invest in the future.
Another example of failure comes from Manchester Airport and its queues for bag drop off in Terminal 2.
As a Mancunian local, the picture that you see above sees the queue go all of the way in the direction of the airport train station, which is at least a 5-10 minute walk.
How on earth is the sector supposed to cope with this demand if it is not ready to do so?
The Industry is Thinking About The Long-Term Too Much…
Whilst it is understandable to think about the long-term success of the industry, it often comes at the cost of forgetting the short-term.
Pretty expansion plans here, new routes there.
You cannot achieve this unless you succeed in the short term, and I am a journalist, not a businessman. That has to be a very simple and fundamental aspect of a business.
The other side of the argument here is that we have just had a pandemic, so there has been enough thinking about the short-term.
However, the industry acted as it needed to during that time, but now is the era of post-pandemic recovery. Not addressing the shortfalls caused by the pandemic is going to hinder recovery going forward.
The Ukraine Crisis…
Now, those reading this may think, what on earth does the Ukraine conflict have to do with the upcoming Summer 2022 season?
As Jon Ostrower of The Air Current says, there is always an aviation angle.
Ukraine relates to the first point made in this op-ed, whereby Russia controls a lot of oil and gas.
Germany has triggered an emergency plan to manage gas supplies in the country, with the risk of disruption in the energy supply, to which Russia provides them with a lot.
The same gist applies to Jet A-1 and other oil sources. The increased dependency on Russia for these commodities could have the potential to hinder capacity in the Summer 2022 schedule.
We could see unhappy passengers, refunds galore as we have seen during the pandemic, and other negative aspects which are going to hinder growth.
World leaders taking those tough decisions will of course produce a consequence of negativity to the aviation industry, and reduce consumer confidence in this industry.
It remains clear that the Summer 2022 season is going to be disruptive, but for external reasons and also for the problems that the industry has caused itself.
This may seem like a scathing indictment of a sector that is close to my heart, but recovery cannot happen unless we solve the problems we are facing in the short term.
There will be those who will disagree with me, but if anything, I encourage the discussion.
Discussion is needed to come towards some form of consensus on how the industry is going to get through this season. It is not going to be easy.