Guest Blog from our Director of Account Management, Chris Hellawell
With news of British Airways retiring their final 747-400, it got me thinking about how the travel industry has adapted and changed to this “new normal”… while we’re not post-Covid just yet, news of vaccines and pre-flight tests suggests that ‘adapting rather than cancelling’ will be with us for a few more months to come.
If we think back to when the pandemic first took hold, everything stopped – borders closed, economies halted and people locked-down in the hope of killing the virus; that model is obviously not sustainable. Life as we know it had to return but in an adapted form.
The same can be said of the travel industry. We’re used to change. 9/11 terrorist attacks, 2008 recession – events that completely changed the face of our industry, but we always bounced back – perhaps a little leaner, a little more focused on the basics and in time, recovery came. This new challenge (I say ‘challenge’ as I do see this as something we will overcome!), feels different. This isn’t a singular event – this is something that regardless of locale, can impact your life, so it’s fair that there needs to be more stringent and restrictive action, but at what cost?
It’s worth noting that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) demonstrated the low incidence of in-flight Covid-19 transmission with an updated tally of published cases. Since the start of 2020 there have been 44 cases of Covid-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.
Earlier this month, as an industry, we looked to the UK Government to re-think how they can support us with a #SaveTravel campaign. This campaign urges those in power to look at how the industry is suffering under largely broad-stroke action that’s severely damaging to organisations who have followed guidelines, implemented huge amounts of new safety procedures and invested in their products to ensure travellers feel looked-after whilst using their services.
Diversity Travel is no different – all my colleagues are still home-based, working round-the-clock to support our clients – and looking at ways the industry is adapting and how we need to change to best-support travel in the ‘new normal’.
I am hopeful that over the next few weeks, we may see a shift in demand for business travel – the consensus seems to be that January 2021 is when things might pick up and we’re ready and waiting. One thing I think we’re likely to see, according to The Financial Times, is PCR tests becoming a mandatory requirement, taken within 48-72 hours of departure and negating much of the risk whilst flying.
Airline crews are likely to require tests before they fly. Only last week, Virgin Atlantic started trialing rapid pre-flight testing for Heathrow-based crews. This makes me think whether there will be a wider action for everyone to be tested to be accepted for travel?
Like my colleagues, I continue to strive to offer the best possible service during these changing times and, alongside my wider industry peers, watching eagerly to see how we can best support a wider return to business travel.