Air transport: cheap travel is over

International travel and (low-cost) vacation packages will never go back to what they were with the arrival of Covid-19, as airlines are struggling to survive, and a series of collapses and bankruptcies looms.

That’s the conclusion of Bart A. Pattyn, Crisis Manager at Bart A. Pattyn Management b.v.

In his words: «Only the strongest and most agile will survive, but with a smaller fleet and a reduced supply.»

A much smaller airline industry will be able to charge «normal» prices for intercontinental travel.

Transatlantic flights will cost more than $ 1,000 for basic flights, like before the 49.99-pound airline boom, according to his forecasts.

The current reality that a 500km flight is cheaper than the corresponding train trip makes no economic sense and could disappear. Return to sustainable public transport?

«We could even see the return of flag carriers, as governments subsidize carriers to ensure their capital remains connected, which is not obvious when large airlines look for profitable routes to survive,» says Pattyn.

While private travel for tourism will become more exclusive, business travel will be even more pressured.

Travel and Covid-19

With the closure, company captains became accustomed to video meetings even for their close staff.

From Pattyn’s perspective, the compelling argument of flying around the world at higher prices will be much more difficult to make, so volumes will go down and stay low.

This will have consequences for the hospitality industry as well, according to him: not only do hotels need to adapt capacity to social distancing, but there will probably not be a return to mass tourism with all-inclusive buffets and groups moving in sync to through tourist circuits; travel will be even more pressured.

With fewer business travelers and less mass tourism, hotel chains can be expected to consolidate.

Private accommodations will be raised to a higher level to compensate for the lower volume. Can domestic travel and shared accommodation be the winners in the end?


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