The Editor’s Corner #35 – Planes, COVID-19 Strains & BREXIT Pains – UK Travel Struggles to Recover

Photo sourced from UK Parliament.

LONDON – Planes, COVID-19 strains & BREXIT pains: The UK travel market struggles to recover, despite a successful Summer 2022. Welcome to The Editor’s Corner.

The Editor’s Corner is 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.

In case you have missed the last 34, feel free to browse through them before you continue to read this piece:

  1. The Editor’s Corner #1: The Industry Isn’t Ready for Summer 2022 Demand
  2. The Editor’s Corner #2: JetBlue’s Offer for Spirit Airlines Will Change The American Airline Dynamic
  3. The Editor’s Corner #3: Boris Johnson’s Damage To The Aviation Sector is Another Reason for Resignation
  4. The Editor’s Corner #4: PLAY Will Transform The Market with a Post-Pandemic Edge
  5. The Editor’s Corner #5: Detriment of the Boeing 737 MAX & 787 Is Causing a 777X-Based Aftershock
  6. The Editor’s Corner #6: Qantas’ Plans For The Future Will Turn Around Negative Times
  7. The Editor’s Corner #7: The P2F Market Is Hotting Up…
  8. The Editor’s Corner #8: O’Leary Is Gunning For Another Cheap Boeing Order
  9. The Editor’s Corner #9: Ukraine Crisis: Turkish Airlines’ A350 Snap-Up from Aeroflot May Have Something To Do With A Red Carpet…
  10. The Editor’s Corner #10 – Ukraine Crisis: Lessors Will Not Win The Russia Battle
  11. The Editor’s Corner #11 – Spirit Airlines Are Slowly Changing Their Mind…
  12. The Editor’s Corner #12 – The Indian Air Cargo Market Is Hotting Up
  13. The Editor’s Corner #13 – Video Footage From RedAir Flight 203 Highlights Dangers of Carrying Luggage During an Evacuation
  14. The Editor’s Corner #14 – The Spirit-Frontier-JetBlue Battle for Merger Will Be Remembered As A Mess
  15. The Editor’s Corner #15 – Flyr, Norse & Norwegian Have Opportunity to Capitalise on SAS’ Woes
  16. The Editor’s Corner #16 – The Airbus & Boeing Battle Will Heat Up At Farnborough
  17. The Editor’s Corner #17 – My Predictions for Farnborough Were Well Off…
  18. The Editor’s Corner #18 – Why Do Airports & Airlines Fight Over Chaos When Government is to Blame?
  19. The Editor’s Corner #19 – Manchester Airport Has Resolved Its Chaotic Period – But Improvements Are Needed…
  20. The Editor’s Corner #20 – Ukraine Crisis: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Russia Return Was A Mistake From The Get-Go
  21. The Editor’s Corner #21 – More Than Meets The Eye to The Emirates-United Codeshare
  22. The Editor’s Corner #22 – Israel Banning Boeing 747s Will Have Massive Impact on Cargo Operators
  23. The Editor’s Corner #23 – Amid Their Chaos, Qantas Is Taking The Fight to Air New Zealand
  24. The Editor’s Corner #24 – The Russian Airline Industry Is Heading for a Nosedive
  25. The Editor’s Corner #25 – Downfall of Doncaster Represents The Beginning of the Regional Collapse
  26. The Editor’s Corner #26 – The A35K/Delta Order Rumour Mill Highlights Strong Momentum for Airbus
  27. The Editor’s Corner #27 – IndiGo Leasing 777s Reflective of Demand for Indian Travel
  28. The Editor’s Corner #28 – Airbus A321XLR Can Make Wizz Air A Global Success Story
  29. The Editor’s Corner #29 – A British Airways-easyJet Merger Would Change The Landscape
  30. The Editor’s Corner #30 – Boeing Has Conceded Defeat To Airbus In The Narrowbody Market?
  31. The Editor’s Corner #31 – The Chinese Regional Market Is Hotting Up
  32. The Editor’s Corner #32 – JFK’s New Terminal 6 Will Come Too Late
  33. The Editor’s Corner #33 – Finnair’s Strong Brand Will Enable A Significant Bounceback
  34. The Editor’s Corner #34 – 777X Engine Issues Are Not Helping Things

Planes, COVID-19 Strains & BREXIT Pains – UK Travel Struggles to Recover

It is right to acknowledge that the Summer 2022 season helped out the travel sector, but is this only a temporary fix?

The industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and with future visa requirements post-BREXIT, this is going to be an additional strain on making travel successful.

No wonder UK carriers such as easyJet and others are moving over to European Air Operator’s Certificates.

COVID-19 Strains…

Now before anyone says anything, yes, I know that COVID cases are down considerably compared to the start of this year and before that.

However, we are still experiencing around 3,000 positive cases based on a seven-day rolling average, which is quite a substantial number when you think about it.

We haven’t had any COVID-related deaths since the 18th of November, but such recovery from the pandemic is still ongoing for UK airlines.

It is still going to take quite some time for recovery numbers to be exceeded, which is why a lot of reliance has been made on Summer 2023, as opposed to year-round demand at this current stage.

With COVID still around, it is going to cost the government money, which is one of many factors attributed to the current cost of living crisis. But we will go more into that later.

And when things cost the government money, this equals the taxpayer having to fork out more money as a result.

BREXIT Pain?: Visas for UK Passengers…

As has been announced during the events of BREXIT, from November 2023, citizens of the UK will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver to enter EU countries.

This system will be compulsory for UK citizens to fill out. Yes, it only takes 10 minutes to fill out, but this will be added red tape, courtesy of the European Union.

Now, knowing how ideologically political the vast swathes of the UK population are, this could turn into a moral decision based on political viewpoints that could hinder the travel sector. Here’s why:

For those that don’t like the EU, this principled standpoint of not filling this document out will prevent a said person from going on holiday into the EU, especially if there is a charge to fill out an ETIAS.

I know from what I see on social media and in person that there are a lot of these ideologically driven members of the population and that in itself can be a hindrance to the travel sector, which isn’t needed off the back of an attempted recovery.

As a remainer, I personally think that this is a form of a “revenge tax” by the EU as a punishment for us leaving, and I can understand why they would do something like that if this was the case.

I do know that this is not the case, as other third-country nationals have to do the same thing.

Either way, though, it may not provide a large impact, but enough of an impact to stop those politically-motivated people from traveling to Europe.

Current Recession…

The current recession will prove to be a major obstacle for legacy travel, especially as consumer spending powers down in the wake of this financial disruption.

However, it may not so much on the low-cost side of things, especially with Ryanair CEO O’Leary reporting that booking demand is quite high for the Winter 2022/23 season and beyond.

Either way, a recession will psychologically change spending habits, and again, this will prove to be a hindrance to the travel sector either way.

It’s going to be interesting to see how such a dynamic will play out in the UK, which does bring me to my next point quite smoothly:

Infrastructure Strikes…

As we have seen over the last few weeks, the upcoming infrastructure strikes, both on rail and with the border force personnel at airports, are going to prove very problematic.

As mentioned by Cirium, the border force strikes will affect around 10,000 flights or the equivalent of two million seats/passengers.

On the rail side with the RMT, such disruption over the Christmas period will effectively disable the ability to travel to airports smoothly, which again is going to provide a hindrance to the travel sector.

What’s more, even the PCS union for border force personnel, the strike days are going to happen at similar points, bringing the country to a public transport stand-still, if you will.

And this is revenue that travel companies are going to miss out on, especially when the Winter season is quite volatile and bankruptcies are often rife.

Across all the points above, we are on our way into some form of travel oblivion temporarily unless the UK Government doesn’t pull its finger out. But that won’t happen, as it seems to head into another orifice to screw.

Overall: Too Many External Factors…

There are too many external factors at play in the UK travel sector, and it is most definitely going to make recovery even that harder.

Looking ahead, we are probably going to be on a path where further government intervention is going to be required, and it won’t be for COVID this time.

The strategy of scuppering pay deals with the unions is very hostile and almost Thatcherite in approach.

That is a dangerous game to play when multiple sectors and people are suffering.

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