Comment: Why airlines can’t return to normal

As the general public leans towards the mentality that the world is now “almost” normal again, politicians and medical experts have a totally different opinion on the state of play.

It would not be incorrect to assume that both sides of the equation think the other doesn’t know what they are doing.

However, assuming the position of the former of the two categories described, that is, the general public, it would be fair for them to question why the world of air travel cannot simply put the key in the door (or engine in this case), turn it and off we go immediately to the point we were at before the current state of affairs arrived.

A few simple examples will soon show that the world of aviation is far from being capable of re-starting from where it stopped.

Winston Churchill once made the comment “never waste a good crisis”, and the airlines are certainly not missing their golden opportunity.

Cutting costs in aviation has always seemed to be more of a focus than selling more and to this end the airlines have not been slow; in fact they have been ridiculously quick in announcing job losses.

Lufthansa are cutting 22 000 jobs out of a workforce of 135 000. BA is ridding itself of 12 000 jobs from a 45 000 total, Ryanair is getting rid of about 15 per cent (3000) of its workforce and Easyjet is reducing its staff by three per cent (4500 jobs).

If we were to assume that these job losses were from back office tasks as opposed to front line operational staff, then we may also assume or hope that the numbers and frequency of flights may not be impacted.

However, the “shrinking” does not stop with manpower: Lufthansa is withdrawing 100 aircraft out of its approximately 770 fleet across its various airline brands, EasyJet is removing 51 from its fleet of 351 planes and Air France is getting rid totally of its entire fleet of A380 Superjumbos.  The airlines are clearly gearing down.

Whether these moves are prudent business acumen or it’s hasty and rash decision-making brought about by listening to and reading articles from people who know little about the subject matter in focus, therefore creating a self-fulfilling proclamation of doom, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, utopia exists for the airlines when resurgent demand faces limited supply and fares increase.

(Photo: Pablo Barrios)

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Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is Managing Director of Jamadvice Travel / BCD Bulgaria, one of Bulgaria’s leading Travel Management Companies with 28 years market leading presence on the Bulgarian market.