Demand for air travel could come back by Q4 2021: ATM Virtual 2021


Following last week’s in-person Arabian Travel Market the Middle East’s largest travel and tourism showcase, continued this week with the opening of ATM Virtual.
Under the same theme of ‘A new dawn for travel & tourism’, the three-day event, which was specifically designed for those industry professionals unable to attend the in-person ATM event, kicked off this year with a high-level official giving a candid outlook about the recovery of the aviation industry.
During a virtual conversation with top aviation consultant, John Strickland, who conducted the interview from London, Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airlines, initially gave his opinion on the recovery timescale of the aviation sector.
“The ideal situation is that the vaccine programme beats the virus by autumn of this year and we get some relief then demand will come back at a staggering rate. Low cost (airlines) will benefit from intra-European travel, the US domestic market, China’s domestic market and international travel will (also) return in large numbers,” said Sir Tim.
“But the problem (with this scenario) will be twofold. The ability of airlines to meet the demand when it comes and two, the conditionality of country access requirements,” he added.
On the latter point, Sir Tim explained that even though there is massive pent-up demand, there may well be inhibitors too. Some passengers might be nervous and worried about variant strains of the Coronavirus, the situation in India he said is creating a ripple effect across the global economy.
Although airlines and airports had really worked hard to ‘sanitise’ how they managed passenger welfare, mitigating risk through their protocols, that alone would not be enough.
“It’s a question of how we navigate the next six months and if we do it right with equitable vaccine distribution, testing regimes simplified and made cheaper, all of this lends to the theory that by the end of the year, we’ll be back in business in some scale,” he said.
Sir Tim then moved on to talk about business travel and said: “Business travel will return in absolute terms, but segments will change. Airlines will have to adapt to the changing nature of demand. An a la carte menu for business class which allows you to pick and choose products at various price points that go with it, is a smart idea.”


Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar