What does the future of air transport look like after Covid-19?

The global pandemic caused by the spread of Covid-19 disease has implied a dramatic reduction of air travel all over the world. Companies have been forced to shrink their operations to the bone, while images of grounded airplanes became the norm. This forced stop will likely have long term consequences and bring to a general restructuring of air transportation. In this contribution three academic experts discuss some of the main issues in this debate:

  • With most airline companies struggling to survive, some governments have already announced loan or bailout plans, while others have (re)nationalized them or are planning to do so. Yet another approach to the matter is to leave it in the hands of the market and allow these companies to fail. This debate is important because, after the bailout of banks in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, the public opinion might question the opportunity of adopting a “too big to fail” strategy implying a huge allocation of public resources to private companies.
  • The high contribution to CO2 emissions by aviation has been a recurring target of environmental movements in the past years. After months – and possibly years- of public spending to support economies damaged by the global lockdown, the public opinion might be favorable to introduce higher taxes and restrictions to airplane travel.
  • On the demand side, will the disposition to fly ever come back to pre-coronavirus levels? The tourism industry is unlikely to recover soon, and people might think twice before boarding a busy airplane again. Business travelers, on the other hand, might find it preferable to hold meetings online, consolidating habits that have developed during lockdown.

This article contributes to these issues and stimulates further reflection on the future of air transportation. Have a good read.

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