Every flight attendant I know, myself included, would like to go back to the busy flight operations, get ready for the pre-flight briefings, and chit chat with other crew members about how life has been after being grounded for so long.
No one knows when that’s gonna happen, all we can do now is just praying that the covid19 pandemic will end soon. Most of my colleagues believe that once the pandemic is over, the skies will be busy like before.
Is it really what’s gonna happen in the near future?
As much as I would love to believe that it would be that easy, my analytical thinking ability bothers me with so many questions. I guess this is the journalist in me who can’t stop connecting the dots from the news that I’ve read.
It has been the third month since countries all over the world put international flight restrictions to prevent the spreading of covid19. Everyone working in the aviation industry has been grounded or even laid off for two to three months now.
Airlines asked for the government’s bailout in order to survive, but not every airline can be helped. Some airlines could not bear with the pandemic effect and had to declare bankruptcy.
Some airlines already started flying to selected cities to avoid burning more cash due to flight cancellations. However, flying amidst the pandemic is difficult and it costs a lot more than before.
Airlines need to deep cleanse the cabin and put stricter health and safety protocols to comply with WHO international travel guidelines. IATA recently released a roadmap for restarting aviation that provides a comprehensive explanation about biosecurity for air transport (click here for the full report).
Temperature screening, physical distancing, and the use of masks are expected. However, physical distancing in the cabin means reducing the cabin capacities and airlines have no choice but to increase ticket fares.
Cabin crew members are required to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) that include facial covers, mask, and gloves. Some airlines even require their crew to wear hazmat suits for extra protection. Gone are the days when flight attendants look glamorous in their lovely uniforms.
As for passengers, extra precautions are put in place. Thermal scanners, paperless tickets, and even covid19 rapid tests before boarding. Not to mention, some countries require all arriving passengers to be quarantined for 14 days.
It’s a lot of hassle for everybody. No one wants to travel unless very necessary.
Airlines want to get back to business indeed, but they realize that both operating and grounding the aircrafts in the middle of the pandemic cost them a lot of money. They need to calculate the costs carefully and by all means possible reduce unnecessary spending.
Cost reduction means massive layoffs and it happens in all sectors; aviation and tourism workers are hit the hardest. People are holding their money tight and cut their consumption in order to survive until they get another job.
With the numbers of unemployment increasing worldwide, the question is… who will be traveling anytime soon?
As long as the vaccine for covid19 is not discovered yet and the pandemic status is not lifted by WHO yet, air travel will not be back to normal. Airline analysts and executives even said that it will take years for the aviation industry to recover to the pre-pandemic level.
Aviation industry will rebound and this crisis will be over, this I know. The question is… when? Nobody knows for sure. Life still goes on anyway, bills need to be paid whether or not I am flying.
Sometimes I envy my colleagues whose faith keeps them optimistic. They believe that we will be flying again before the year ends. I would like to think the same, but my brains keep offering me two possible scenarios.
I have to get ready for all possibilities and learn new skills should I need to find another job one day. Another homework to be done is to prepare mentally and financially for the post-pandemic life.