After the Covid-19 pandemic, the world returned to flying, but the industry was beset by chaos and cancellations. This has been another difficult year for aviation. However, there were bright spots, as the industry gradually recovered and progress was made toward more environmentally friendly flying. The highs and lows of this bumpy ride are listed below.
1. We (mostly) removed our masks as the covid restrictions were eased
We started the year with our masks on and Covid passes ready. In March and April, the thaw began, with Europe leading the way in easing restrictions. Asia has been the slowest to return to the travel industry, yet presently even Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan are opening their entryways. Experts warn that China’s sudden exit from its Zero Covid strategy, the last remaining country, may be too drastic.
2. We all took to flying once more, which was a problem
Strikes, fewer flights, and higher fares are all possibilities. As post-pandemic staffing shortages, infrastructure issues, and, in some quarters, worker disputes continued to cripple the industry, the summer of travel chaos evolved into the winter of travel chaos. Flights and seats in the US and somewhere else are as yet not back to pre-pandemic levels, meaning popularity is as yet pushing up costs.
3. One of the busiest airports in the world demanded that airlines stop selling tickets
London Heathrow limited passenger traffic to 100,000 departures per day in July as it struggled to keep up with the increase in demand. Delta Air Lines dealt with the baggage handling crisis by flying a plane from Heathrow to its Detroit hub with 1,000 lost bags and no passengers during that month’s chaos, which was dubbed “airmageddon.”
4. A few carriers attempted to compromise
The gaps started to appear. The CEO of European low-cost airline Wizz Air was criticized for telling employees to take fewer days off because they were tired. Additionally, the controversial proposal of regional airline Republic Airways to reduce the number of hours required to become a co-pilot was rejected by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
5. Unhappy passenger numbers skyrocketed
By August, airline passenger complaints in the US had increased by 325 percent compared to before the pandemic. In addition, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, US airlines had refunded more than $600 billion to passengers for flights that had been canceled or changed. Disabled travelers have been particularly hard hit by service gaps, with treatment frequently reaching “unacceptable” levels.
6. The bad behavior was too much for the flight attendants
Tensions in the air increased as a result of the chaos and drama, as did the number of incidents involving disruptive passengers. In the “unsustainable and shambolic” situation, flight attendants were at the forefront of the action.
7. Asia-Pacific lost its position as the largest travel market in the world
Asian Pacific air traffic accounted for more than a third of all global passenger journeys before Covid changed the travel landscape. By October 2022, aviation in the region was still down by 45 percent. CNN reported in May that airline ticket scalpers had conquered China’s tightly controlled market.
8. Hong Kong flew canines in personal luxury planes and offered aircraft tickets free of charge
In the locked-down world of January 2022, desperate pet owners in Hong Kong were moving their animals out of the city by chartering private planes for them. Hong Kong, which had some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world for more than two years, announced plans to give away half a million airline tickets in October 2022 to encourage tourism.
9. Airspace was cut off after the invasion of Ukraine
The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in the closure of both countries’ airspace, as well as sanctions against Russian airlines (and Russia’s retaliatory sanctions). In addition, the conflict caused a rise in the cost of jet fuel in March. The Antonov AN-225, the largest commercial aircraft in the world, was destroyed by Russian forces at its base in Ukraine at the beginning of the war. However, there are now plans to rebuild it.
10. Another year of severe weather followed
“Clear-air turbulence,” the most severe and sudden type of turbulence, may increase in the coming decades, according to experts. On December 18 and 19, dozens of people were injured on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, and on December 19, five people were injured on a United Airlines flight.
11. Additionally, heat waves have an impact on air travel
This summer, there were severe heat waves in Europe, the United States, and Asia. In one instance, flights were canceled at a London airport because high temperatures damaged a runway. In particular at airports located at higher altitudes, extreme heat can also make it more difficult for planes to take off. Why is this?
12. The Airbus A380 returned
Even though the Airbus A380, the largest passenger plane in the world, is no longer in production, the superjumbo made a comeback after being grounded during the pandemic. Emirates’ boss, Tim Clark, told CNN that he wants Airbus to build another plane on the same scale as the A380, which is Emirates’ biggest customer. But will airlines or manufacturers respond?