Summer Ushers in Heightened Travel Opportunities
With summer underway, over a dozen European Union (EU) nations began their use of the EU Digital COVID Certificates. Among the first to make these certificates, also referred to as “Digital Green Certificates” (DGC), available to their citizens were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland. These nations were followed by Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Spain. It is expected that all 27 members of the EU will have vaccine passports available to their citizens as of July 1, 2021. Among the next EU and non-EU nations to issue DGCs will be Belgium, Cyprus, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland are next. Those nations still in their testing phases are Finland, Hungary and Malta. Currently being discussed, is the availability of the EU Digital COVID Certificate to Americans.
The DGC is intended to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the DGC holder’s negative test result or recovery from COVID-19. With this documentation, EU citizens will be able to travel freely in their country and other EU nations. According to the European Commission, citizens of non-EU member states including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland will also be able to enjoy this freedom, however, citizens of the United Kingdom will not. As part of this overall initiative, the EU government has also asked that its member countries waive testing and quarantine requirements for individuals who are vaccinated, have recently recovered from the virus or had a negative COVID test result.
Air Cargo Companies on Board with Brussels Airport’s Digital Slot Booking
It seems many air cargo companies have been signing up to participate in Brussels Airport’s Digital Green Lane initiative. This digital slot booking program provides a fully paperless process for cargo pick-up and drop-off. Among those that have already signed up are eight freight forwarders and four ground handling agents which together handle 75% of the airport’s volume. They include: APA, BDP International, DHL Global Forwarding, DSV, Expeditors, Geodis, Kuehne + Nagel, Nippon Express, Aviapartner, dnata, Swissport and WFS.
Applied in the Digital Green Lane initiative are different apps for various processes such as truck slot booking and documentation, all developed by the software company, Nallian. To be participant in this initiative company that may have been using other apps for their process are now required to use the Nallian-developed apps.
In an official statement about its Digital Green Lane initiative, Brussels Airport noted, “By making use of these digital applications, all partners involved will be able to avoid waiting lines and optimize their capacity and resource planning.” The airport also noted that Digital Green Lane application users will be given a priority service when picking up or delivering freight.
U.S. Domestic Markets’ Summer Bookings Approaching Pre-Pandemic Crisis Levels
There is good news coming from IATA Economics which is reporting that U.S. July and August travel bookings are starting to approach the levels of bookings recorded in 2019 before the pandemic reached its crisis level in the U.S. According to IATA, relying on data from DDS, a contributor has been the sharp fall in virus cases and the nation’s fast vaccine rollout. This enabled travel restrictions to be loosened and pent-up travel demand to be addressed. The data revealed that U.S. domestic bookings for this summer have reached 85% of 2019 levels.
As for other nations, global domestic summer bookings (excluding the U.S.) are trending at approximately 50% of pre-crisis levels. Russia’s bookings are trending above, while India is reporting less than 10% of its 2019 levels. When looking at 2020 data, international summer bookings are still lower, but the cancellation rate in 2020 was higher than usual, so it is possible that 2021 international summer travel may come in higher better than 2020.
Expected Aviation Industry Recovery Scenarios
Based on the industry data, the aviation sector’s recovery is now underway. There are many recovery scenarios that can develop over the next few years and industry observers are beginning to present these what if scenarios. The international management consultancy of Roland Berger developed an updated outlook and included findings from a survey of key industry players. Here are some of the highlights of its recovery scenario research:
- There was a broad consensus among survey respondents that the industry will see a recovery to pre-crisis levels by 2023-24.
- There is certainty as to the expected recovery dates for aircraft build rates, however, there was a split among the respondents on narrowbody and widebody aircraft production recovery, with equal numbers expecting a 2023-24 recovery for narrowbody production and a 2025-26 or later recovery date for widebody production.
- Sustainable technologies, industry consolidation, and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives were all seen as emerging trends within the industry. Among the sustainable technologies cited were sustainable aviation fuels, electrical propulsion and hydrogen propulsion. As for industry consolidation, the researchers were surprised that this ranked high on the respondents’ list of emerging trends considering the drop in demand, however, Roland Berger did cite the need for consolidation particularly among the Tier 2 level players and MROs.