The implications of COVID-19 are, and will be, far reaching for this sector in the widest sense. What do you think will happen over the next 12 months? What major shifts/changes can we expect?
The airline industry was particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as people chose not to fly or were prevented from flying by government travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
As the world begins to emerge from the worst effects and economies begin to revive, governments will have to ease these restrictions and do so safely using a science-based approach. To encourage this process, airlines will continue to introduce new layers of biosafety to give people confidence to travel. The airport and onboard experience will change, with measures to safeguard customers and employees through additional protective measures, new technology to limit interactions and streamlined processes.
Safety has always been a core value of airlines, and it will be more evident than ever.
COVID-19 is likely to test the ability of every CEO in every sector. What attributes do you think will be important in regard to your own ability to manage your organisation through COVID-19 in 2021/2022?
For Air Canada, the key has been to act quickly and seek ways to continuously enhance our already robust safety practices. We were among the first to reduce flying to China when the pandemic began and also among the first airlines to introduce customer temperature screening and make facial coverings mandatory onboard.
We have developed partnerships with outside expert advisers and biotech companies to help us further develop our response. We intend to continue adding protective layers to further reassure our customers and protect our employees and we have a culture of continuous improvement that will enable us to do this.
What do we need to do differently as sector to ensure we maximise the health of the sector over the course of 2021/2022?
It is widely expected that airlines that survive will emerge smaller, more focused and even more competitive than prior to COVID-19. This will be good for consumers, as each carrier will be working hard to regain its previous customer levels. As an industry, however, we must continue to collectively work on building customer confidence that travel is safe in the post-pandemic era, particularly as we await a vaccine. This will require sharing best practices and working cooperatively with each other and other industry partners, such as airports, to ensure the entire travel experience is as safe as it can be.
The industry already cooperates well in terms of safety so this should be readily achievable.