Business and recreational travel are starting to increase as vaccines become more widely distributed and restrictions begin to lift in many countries.
The rise in post-pandemic travel will pose unparalleled challenges for the aviation industry as it explores solutions to promote safety, reduce virus spread, and simplify safety protocols for air travel passengers. These measures will likely include digital solutions such as mobile app health passes that verify coronavirus vaccine and test status.
The 2021 World Aviation Festival, hosted virtually the week of April 19–23, brought together leaders and experts in travel and infectious disease to talk about the future of the airline industry. The event included keynote addresses, networking sessions, and speaker panels with some of the industry’s leaders. If you missed it, here are some of the highlights:
- Passenger behaviors have changed for good, so innovation is necessary.
“Our ability to provide services and innovation for new levels of customers while also keeping all the elements that are now basic hygiene for us, quite literally, are going to be essential in the years to come,” an executive at Virgin Atlantic said in the “CIO Panel: What is the right tech strategy to aid a successful pandemic recovery?”Panelists discussed the ever-changing nature of the airline industry, which is often subject to health and environmental factors outside of its control, such as the coronavirus. They agreed a certain amount of innovation is necessary to keep up with these constant changes.Watch the CIO Panel.
- Digital services and passenger self-service are here to stay.
“Digital services and self-service information are a way to do more with less,” a panelist said in the “How will automation, enabled by biometrics and contactless technologies become more important than ever in this COVID-19 era?” panel.Mobile technologies like travel passes can help facilitate the transfer of information faster than ever before.The panel discussed how the pandemic has necessitated the need for biometrics that verify vaccination and infection status. “Current conditions have definitely accelerated adoption, especially on the consumer side,” the panelist said.In addition, it’s also accelerated technologies that aviation companies were already considering, such as mobile health passes, QR codes, and tokens, which could eventually carry over into other parts of the travel experience.Listen to the panel.
- Digital solutions can reignite passenger confidence and boost demand.
“We’ve invested a lot in people’s abilities to self-service,” an easyJet executive said in the keynote interview, “Understanding easyJet’s pathway to recovery.”According to this executive, the use of data and digital tools can make for a more efficient and seamless travel experience for passengers. The issue, though, for the aviation industry will be explaining these features in a way that enables passengers to understand their utility.Listen to “Understanding easyJet’s pathway to recovery”.
- Digital solutions can make for smoother airport operations.
“Airports won’t be able to function unless we can provide a digital solution,” a leader of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in his keynote interview.“People want to fly. There is very strong demand,” the leader said. “We’ve witnessed that when restrictions on travel are relaxed or removed. There’s an immediate bounce back.”Supporting this upcoming influx of travel will require digital solutions that help passengers navigate airports conveniently and cost-effectively. It will also reduce the “chaos” that this leader says ensues from passenger confusion over test verification. IATA is currently in talks with governments to simplify this process.Watch the keynote interview.
- Experts are optimistic about travel this summer.
“We must follow the science,” said a leader at Virgin Atlantic Airways in the “CEO Keynote Interview: What is the Virgin Atlantic roadmap to recovery?” discussion. This leader believes that not only Virgin, but also the industry as a whole, can come back stronger and better than ever after the pandemic.“We all know that travel will come back,” he said. “It’s just a matter of what’s the shape and speed of return.”Listen to the keynote interview.
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