Europe Seeing Increasing COVID Cases and Lockdowns
Unfortunately, while we were all hoping for a return to normal for the holiday season, it appears that is not the case. Europe, in particular, is experiencing rising cases of COVID-19 despite the fact that almost 60% of Europeans are now fully-vaccinated. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in early November, Europe had almost two million cases of COVID-19 and 27,000 deaths which were the highest in a single week. Further, the WHO indicated that the virus appears to be spreading in Eastern European nations as well as Western Europe, despite the latter being one of the most vaccinated regions in the world. The situation is growing more dire, and governments are taking action to prevent further spread of the virus.
Austria has already placed the country on lockdown for any unvaccinated individuals older than 12. Germany is grappling with its next steps, but a director at the Robert Koch Institute was quoted as saying that the country is facing a “really terrible Christmas.” In the Netherlands, a partial lockdown will be in place for the weeks prior to Christmas with bars and restaurants required to close by 8 p.m. Further, while many European countries had opened their borders for American travelers over the summer and the U.S. also was welcoming European travelers, that may change as the virus rates increase in both regions. Anyone considering travel over the holiday period, should seriously consider travel insurance and specifically a policy that covers COVID-19 disruptions.
Biometrics – A Way to Eliminate Queuing
It has long been recognized that biometrics can be used to make the air travel experience more convenient. Specifically, it can expedite travel processes which passengers want. This is according to IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security Nick Careen who said, “Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time being processed or standing in queues. And, they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports, and governments.”
A survey regarding the use of biometrics found that:
- 73% of passengers were willing to share their biometric data to improve airport process; up from 46% in 2019.
- 88% will share immigration information prior to departure
- 55% identified queuing at boarding, 41% cited queuing at security screening, and 38% cited queuing time at a border control/immigration as top areas for improvement
- 85% of passengers want to spend less than 45 minutes on airport processes when traveling with only hand luggage and 90 want to spend less than one hour when traveling with checked baggage.
Among the other solutions being considered to support more convenient air travel are the IATA Travel Pass and the One ID.
First Air Cargo Sustainability Roadmap Published ty TIACA
The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has published an air cargo sustainability roadmap – an industry first. The roadmap is designed to assist the air cargo industry as its transitions to more sustainable operations. The roadmap offers 30 actionable priorities within eight primary areas which include:
- Waste elimination
- Biodiversity protection
- Supporting local economies and communities
- Improving lives and well-being
- Improving efficiencies and profitability
- Attracting, retaining and developing employees
- Building and nurturing partnerships
TIACA Director General Glyn Hughes stated, “As well ahead to the post-Covid world, we fully expect the topic of sustainability to be a significant driver of future industry success. We anticipate it will become our license to operate with industry customers and business partners demanding excellence in all aspects of sustainable performance, therefore the time to act is now.”
The TIACA sustainability roadmap is also consistent with the organization’s three “Ps” focus on sustainability, which are: People, Planet and Prosperity.
TIACA Chair Steven Polmans added, “I am proud of this latest deliverable in the TIACA Sustainability portfolio which also comprises annual surveys, industry report card, and awards program, training, and people development initiatives with even more things in the pipeline.”
Global Air Traffic Facing Multiple Crises
Managing air traffic in the face of several crises, ranging from the pandemic to climate change, terrorist attacks and economic downfalls is extremely challenging. Climate-related crises have included the Icelandic volcano’s eruption in 2010 and the resulting ash cloud. More recently, in 2018, the climate crises became a worldwide focus and one of the aviation industry’s as well. The industry began focusing matters including damaging emissions and calls for alternative modes of transport. For their part, airline and airport managers were forced to develop argumentation strategies to counter the barrage of attacks facing the industry and to mitigate image-damaging fallout.
When COVID-19 hit, attention was diverted from the climate crisis to the pandemic which brought air travel to an abrupt and full halt. Now, the industry was facing a crisis of a magnitude never before experienced. This global health crisis of unprecedented and historic proportion forced travel restrictions and lockdowns which prevented air travel for months on end. It also generated enormous financial losses for all sectors of the aviation industry among other industry sectors.