The pandemic is reshaping airlines — and how you fly will never return to ‘normal’

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Face mask airplane coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has changed air travel dramatically.
Some changes and measures may be undone once the pandemic is over, but in some ways, flying may never be the same.
We spoke with experts from across the airline and travel industry who told us what to expect when we return to the skies.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On a flight to South Africa in March, just before the novel coronavirus outbreak was officially classified as a pandemic, I spent nearly 10 minutes wiping down my seat with Clorox wipes.

I’m a frequent flyer, but until this trip, I’d never done that before. I knew that planes weren’t scrubbed sterile before each flight, but it never really bothered me.

But this flight was different, as was my emergency flight home a week later, when South Africa announced it would effectively ban Americans due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I saw evidence the plane hed been cleaned as we boarded, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Three months later, it’s clear that those flights weren’t an aberration. They were a harbinger of what is to come.

The role of air travel in the spread of the novel coronavirus has been evident since the the CDC deployed to five US airports and began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.

Since then the airline industry has reckoned with an unprecedented collapse of travel demand and revenue and carriers have worked desperately to prove that it is safe to fly.

Most of the industry expects demand to pick up during the summer, according to Helane Becker, the lead airline analyst at Cowen. Numbers already began to climb in May and June, TSA passenger data show, albeit at a snail’s pace, and with little guarantee the improvement will continue after the summer travel season, or during a second (or third) wave of the pandemic.

As the air travel industry seeks to accelerate growth, and to keep their businesses sustainable through the rest of the pandemic, airlines, airports, regulators, and travelers will need to make previously inconceivable changes.

These changes will have three interlinked purposes: first, to protect passengers and crewmembers’ health; second, to convince potential passengers their health is taken care of; and finally, to generate enough confident customers to get their business back to growth.

What that adds up to is a future of flying that will look a lot different than the past. Business Insider spoke with experts from across the industry to get a better understanding of what’s to come for the airline industry.

It’s certain that the experience of air travel will be different during the next few years. But what happens once a vaccine has been developed and the fear of the pandemic subsides? Will things go back to the way they were, or has flying changed for good?

The coming months and years: Social distancing and masks on planes, widespread sanitizing

The experts I spoke with for this article had a range of opinions and predictions, but there was one thing they each …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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