Aviation sector to take 6-24 months to recover from COVID-19 blow: Survey

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The aviation industry may take between six months to two years to recover from the severe blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey carried out by global consultancy ICF.
The survey, conducted among senior and mid-level executives from across the world between late March and early April, also revealed that there may be increased scrutiny placed on the health and sanitary conditions of individual countries that could impact air service and passenger demand.

“The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a total or partial shutdown of their business. As to how long business activity will remain depressed, nearly half of respondents expect the slowdown to last three to four months.

“One-third of respondents, however, think it can last five months to one year. In contrast, nearly half of respondents expect recovery will take up to two years,” as per the survey.

“Not only are we facing the most profound activity slowdown in aviation history, but respondents are also expecting a slow road to recovery. Just over one-third of respondents anticipate activity will return to pre-crisis levels within a year,” it stated.

Given how deep the present crisis is and the growing probability that it will trigger a global recession, ICG said it expects the recovery period to be significantly longer than the respondents’ expectations.

“It is important to remember, however, that traffic has always come back,” it added.

At the same time, the survey observed regional differences in the respondents’ views on the period of recovery, with those in Asia being most optimistic about the future rebound in business activity.

As much as 60 per cent of the respondents in Asia said they expect a full recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels in less than 12 months. This is related to the relative success many Far East countries appear to have had in containing the pandemic, with countries like South Korea and China slowly returning to work, it said.

On the other hand, respondents in Europe and North America are the least optimistic, with two-thirds of respondents expecting the recovery to take up to two years or more, as per the survey findings.

According to the survey, as many as 50 per cent of the respondents indicated that a customer will prefer a direct flight than with a stop-over post-COVID 19, while another 46 per cent were of the opinion that it may give rise to demand for private jets.

“Nine out of 10 respondents expect the widespread adoption of video conferencing solutions for work and education, which would undoubtedly impact the demand for air travel. The implications for business travel, much of which is driven by intra-company meetings, could lead to reduced demand,” the survey stated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new practices (such as sociel distancing and telecommuting), raised hygiene awareness, and increased the popularity of video conferencing. One or two weeks in quarantine may permanently change peoples behavior –but how about one or two months?

“We have never witnessed a social experiment of such magnitude and on such a wide scale, but it would be naive to think the new normal will be identical to the one we knew before COVID-19 upended our lives,” it said.

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