As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has catastrophically affected the volume of global air travel, forcing airlines to lay off flight personnel. The situation was aggravated by the events in Ukraine. Moreover, since for domestic aircraft, many airports of the world were actually closed, and for Western ones, the sky over Russia. As a result, social networks are full of complaints about delays and cancellations of flights, both Russian and foreign.
Compared to the pre-pandemic, the current situation looks simply appalling. Here are just a few complaints from passengers in recent days:
- We fly home via Berlin, because there are no direct flights to Paris.
But this is nothing compared to how flights to Russia fly.
My mother-in-law's flight was delayed by 9 hours. And the flight of our other acquaintances, who wanted to return to St. Petersburg, was simply canceled yesterday, and now they dream of returning back, with three children, somehow.
- Yesterday I received a letter from Lufthansa. They apologize in advance for bad service. This is explained by the lack of staff after dismissal during covid. Wrote that in the coming months will be the same.
- I am guided by the fact that it is a miracle that we fly. Well, yes, there are inconveniences with this. It used to be bad Wi-Fi, but now it's indifference. But this is nonsense (for me) compared to this miracle.
- I don't understand - what happened to air travel? Well, okay in Russia - it's logical. But Europe, America and even South America also do not fly.
Flights are delayed for days without explanation or compensation. Those that fly - fly with wild delays. What did I miss?
In response to these complaints, experts warn that the problems are just beginning.
For example, air transportation specialist Irina Kuznetsova writes:
In this situation, there was such a combination: 1). the ratio of cargo and passenger traffic - everything was reoriented to cargo, then passenger traffic was resumed. They usually sponsor the shipment. But now it's the other way around. The price of cargo has tripled, but the price of passenger remains. The reorientation back is slow - this is not by flights, but by those processes 2). the main thing for today is people. During the pandemic, about 20-30% of the staff went to other jobs. Especially where vaccines were required. Recruitment is slow. For example, because everyone, even the luggage worker, must pass a comprehensive check. 3). COVID has not ended - shifts are understaffed, and this is often 5-10% of canceled flights.
As for freight traffic, the recovery is in full swing here, because everything that is more expensive or perishable is transported by plane - a difference of 5-8 weeks is a lot for working capital. In addition, maritime transport cannot provide the same level of protection. So, for example, phones and iPads are transported by plane, and iPad covers by sea. T-shirts and other goods of general sale - by sea, goods from Dior - by air. Medicines, almost everything except inexpensive vaccines, by plane. During the pandemic, cargo transportation accounted for about a third of airline revenue.”
For its part, the FlightRadar24 aviation service provides 4-year statistics on the number of flights, from which it can be seen that the indicators for 2022 have already somewhat lost the upward pace of the beginning of the year. However, against the levels of the “pre-Covid” 2019, the dynamics of the current year still retains a practically unchanged negative spread.
In the conditions of limited airspace over Russia (including, also, a reduced number of directly Russian flights) and a complete ban on the skies of Ukraine, the cost of flights to Asia has noticeably increased, for example, the Finnish airline Finnair recently announced a serious deterioration in its financial situation due to higher prices Asian flights. The statistics of "commercial flights" includes: passenger flights + cargo + charters + some business flights.
However, airlines are looking for and finding a way out. For example, this: the largest passenger airliner in history, discontinued in 2019, is experiencing a resurgence amid increased demand for air travel, writes Bloomberg . These are Airbus A380 Super Jumbo double-deck aircraft, which can accommodate more than 500 people.
Recall that the A380 made its first flight in 2005 and captivated passengers with its incredible scope - the distance between its wings almost reaches the size of a football field. In total, 251 aircraft were produced and delivered to customers over the 14-year history of the production of double-deck A380s, however, many airlines quickly abandoned such aircraft due to high operating costs.
For example, in June 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, airlines operated only 43 passenger flights on A380 aircraft.
The sudden recovery in passenger traffic has breathed new life into these planes. Nearly 4,000 scheduled flights using the Airbus Super Jumbo are planned for June 2022, with 6,000 flights scheduled for January 2023, according to Cirium. Major airlines in the world prefer to use it for popular long-haul flights. So, the Emirates A380 runs on the Moscow-Dubai flight. Super Jumbo aircraft are able to reduce the load on airports by reducing the total number of flights, each of which requires time and resources to serve.
However, experts warn that if the current surge in air travel fades and fuel prices remain high, carriers could once again find it difficult to justify the costs of such huge aircraft.