Many industries have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with hospitality businesses like airlines and holiday companies being disproportionately affected.

According to the BBC, passenger numbers at Gatwick Airport fell by two-thirds in the first half of 2020. Heathrow airport recorded a £1.5 billion loss between January and September. The impacts of the coronavirus on aviation are huge and will last for years. 

It may be surprising to hear, but business travel has been impacted more than domestic flights. Family emergencies are still occurring, and many people have gone on holiday despite the pandemic – or perhaps because of it. The current situation has shown that as soon as people are able to fly, they will take the opportunity to do so. 

However, whilst business travel may be starting to pick up again, there is still a long way to go until it increases to the capacity seen at this time last year. Many offices are still closed and some businesses may have discovered that they can work just as well remotely. Others might have suffered from financial problems due to the coronavirus and can no longer afford to send employees on long-distance business trips.

Because of COVID-19, the number of passengers on flights has inevitably decreased. Most flights aren’t necessary at the moment and many people are still sceptical of flying because it increases the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, even with current precautions in place. Instead, many aviation companies are replacing people with cargo, a temporary way to maintain their revenue.

The coronavirus has changed the ‘who’ and ‘where’ aspects of aviation too. Lots of country borders remain closed or only open to certain people; others may not allow visitors from coronavirus hotspots. This is a situation that evolves every day, which also serves as a deterrent for travellers who may be unsure if they’ll have to quarantine or not. Moreover, some airports are now testing for the coronavirus, and nobody wants to test positive before their flight.

Passenger numbers are declining and some flights have stopped operating completely, but now there is also no precedent for future flights. Airlines rely heavily on data modelling for almost everything: flight prices, which planes to use, even which flights to run in the first place. The coronavirus has posed such a significant disruption to the data that airlines use that even the most fundamental information is no longer available to them. Flights, flight prices and passenger numbers are completely unpredictable, which is inconvenient for both airlines and airline customers. 

Aviation is currently an unstable and capricious industry and the coronavirus may have changed our perception of flying indefinitely. People can work from home and go on holidays within their own country; it could be many years before the industry recovers properly. 

Perhaps the coronavirus has initiated a permanent change for airlines and passengers alike.