Another turbulent year has passed for the aviation industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of 2021 has worsened the situation even more: thousands of flights have been canceled worldwide and the number of incidents on board planes has multiplied, writes CNN.
Here are some of the highlights of the last 12 months in the field of aviation.
Green certificates and vaccinated board personnel
It is hard to believe that only a year has passed since the first vaccination against COVID-19: Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the vaccine in December 2020. Currently, more than 8 billion vaccines have been administered.
As the world became more and more concerned about the spread of coronavirus during the flight, some of the largest airlines in the United States and around the world initially refused to make vaccination mandatory for their employees.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House medical adviser, said in September that he would like to make vaccination mandatory for all passengers, but the aviation industry opposed the proposal.
In October, Air New Zealand became the largest airline to announce the introduction of the mandatory vaccine for all passengers on international flights, starting in February 2022.
Read also: Vaccination passport: How it will work, who will ask for it, where it will be valid. How airlines become the new “world customs officer”
Incidents with passengers refusing to wear a mask or not getting vaccinated
In addition to the massive $ 20 billion in losses in 2021, the aviation industry has been dealing with another growing problem: unruly passengers.
More incidents occurred in the US in 2021 due to recalcitrant passengers than in all the 31 years in which such incidents were recorded. Some flight attendants even started taking self-defense classes.
In addition to the ‘fights’ with passengers who do not want to wear masks or who want to board their own alcoholic beverages, airlines have had to deal with confusing and changing anti-COVID laws introduced by various governments around the world.
In April, an internal flight from Australia was so delayed that quarantine rules changed while passengers were still in the air. In Ghana, airlines have to pay fines of $ 3,500 for each unvaccinated passenger they carry, a measure that came into effect in December.
Read also: A woman isolated herself in the toilet of a plane after being tested positive for COVID during a flight to Iceland
Crowded planes and more and more expensive tickets
Cancellations, congestion and rising prices have become “the order of the day” in many parts of the world.
Thousands of flights have been canceled, and the lack of flight attendants is forcing airline employees to work overtime. Fewer flights means more expensive tickets.
The good news for COVID-era travelers is that many airlines have introduced cost-effective and flexible ticketing measures, even shortly before take-off. However, flying is now much more stressful and expensive in general, while the rapid tests provided by private companies offer services that vary greatly in quality and cost.
Out-of-service planes and bankrupt companies – the uncertain future of aviation
In February, the Canadian company Bombardier announced that it had suspended the production of Learjet aircraft, small aircraft used in private flights and which have been associated with luxury business travel for decades.
On the other side of the scale, Emirates received in December the last Airbus A380 ever produced – the largest passenger aircraft in the world.
Both the A380 and many others were stranded on the ground due to pandemic restrictions, but some of them took off again this summer, when people started traveling again.
In the California desert, there was a problem with snakes taking shelter in parked planes and coming back into use.
Alitalia, Italy’s largest airline, went bankrupt in August. Unemployed stewardesses staged a protest in central Rome during which they took off their uniforms. Italy’s new state-owned airline, ITA Airways, began operations in October.
In China, Chengdu Tianfu Airport has opened, a huge construction that cost nearly $ 11 billion and has a capacity of 60 million passengers a year.
Belarus’ hijacking of Ryanair
The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius was diverted from the normal flight course and escorted by Belarusian fighter jets so that one of the passengers, the dissident activist Roman Protasevich, was arrested by the Minsk authorities.
Three days after the incident, the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) called on European airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace, which has redrawn Europe’s aviation map.
The issue of carbon dioxide emissions
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has adopted a resolution supporting the reduction of CO2 emissions to a sustainable level by 2050.
Technological innovations have also emerged that could offer clean alternatives to air flights: helium-powered aircraft.
But ultra-polluting pleasure trips did not end in 2021. “Flights to nowhere”, tourist flights with the same point of departure and arrival became very popular, especially in East Asia. In Australia, a flight was observed to observe the phenomenon of the supermoon and the lunar eclipse, for which tickets were sold out in less than three minutes.
The supersonic dream encountered turbulence
The dream of having a successor to the Concorde, the famous supersonic passenger plane, became even more distant when Aerion ran out of funding in May. It had only been a few months since he had announced in a hurry that he would build a supersonic plane that would run on biofuels and no “afterburner”, so that the emissions would have been drastically reduced.
Other companies are working on making supersonic passenger planes: Boom Supersonic aims to make a plane that can fly anywhere in four hours anywhere on Earth for just $ 100 a ticket.
Hermeus is working on a hypersonic plane, faster than the supersonic one, which could reach speeds of Mach 5, ie five times the speed of sound. If the plans come true, the plane would make the journey from London to New York in just 90 minutes, a route that Concorde completed in 3 hours.
The evolution of the flight deck
In 2021, the development of suitable flight cabins to meet the effects of the pandemic was a priority. Airbus has designed a quarantine tent on their planes, while a Japanese airline has introduced ‘hands-free’ toilet doors.
There have also been plans for windowless cockpits, underwater-adapted airplanes and increasingly strange seat models.
Looking to the future, towards 2022 and beyond, first class has begun to disappear from the offerings of many companies, as business class options become more and more luxurious.
Editor: Raul Nețoiu