As we emerge from the privations of the pandemic, more and more of us are rediscovering the excitement of heading to an airport, getting on a plane and flying off into the sunset. For many of us, but definitely not all of us, there’s even a tendency to forgive and forget the delays, the long queues at the bag drop and the overbearing attitude of that bloke at passport control. In the past, you might have been mumbling under your breath about him, but even his unsmiling, uncaring and unwelcome grimace can’t wipe the smile from your face.
Those who work in the aviation industry, from the CEOs of major airlines to the shop assistants at airside branches of WH Smith and all points in between, will know how difficult things have been over the last couple of years. Many will have lost their jobs, of course, while others will have had to try and make ends meet on reduced hours. These have been dark days indeed, but now that we get back to normal will this hugely important sector return to where it once was?
Unfortunately, there are early indications that many of us, even formerly seasoned travellers with more Air Miles than Buzz Aldrin, aren’t ready to fly as often as we used to. There are a number of reasons for this, such as a realisation that Covid hasn’t completely disappeared, our increasing concerns about the effect of air travel on the environment and the worrying increase in oil prices that’s already causing the cost of flights to go up.
Staycations look like they’re here to, er, stay
Another factor here in the UK is the understandable popularity of staycations over the past couple of years. Spending a week in a charming little B&B close to Brighton beach, with complimentary teabags, a tiny view of the waterfront if you can stand on the wardrobe AND ample parking can seem a more pleasing prospect than being cooped up on a plane for four hours before landing at a congested airport in Crete. As long as it’s not pouring with rain in Brighton, of course. And I lied about ample parking, nowhere in Brighton has ample parking, obviously.
This ready acceptance of holidays in the UK may take some time to overcome for many ex-flyers. Some, perhaps, may end up never flying again, while others might get back into the swing of things gradually over the coming years. For the aviation sector, 2022 will indeed be a watershed year, one in which we’ll see whether the general public will want to embrace air travel in the same way that it used to. RMG’s founder Aneela Rose has worked extensively with the aviation sector in the past, and as a result all of us in the office keep a close eye on the industry’s development.
Personally, I want to get back to being a regular flyer as soon as possible. I like everything about it, from the lack of leg room to the way that most airlines seem incapable, even on a good day, of landing at the time they said they would land. I even like the overpriced sandwiches and those little cans of Fanta that you never see anywhere else, the ones that make me feel like I’m a giant who’s flying into Lilliput airport on the overnight red-eye from Colossusland. I also enjoy watching everyone standing up immediately as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, then crouching painfully for 20 minutes because the doors haven’t opened. The optimism they showed at the start soon starts to wane, but they never get back in their seats, do they?
Ahh, I’ve really missed flying.
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