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Optimism in the face of the crisis

The world is made up of pessimists and optimists, with the outcome usually somewhere in between. Optimism is not the same as being cheerful or just happy as these feelings are also not uncommon to pessimists. Pessimistic people more often feel that bad things are coming & their consequences last longer, if not forever. In fact, they make negative extrapolations and believe that bad things trigger a domino-effect. 

So far this year, the pessimists have had the upper hand when it comes to all COVID-19 crisis developments in aviation. 

A year ago, not even the worst pessimist would probably have predicted the employment disaster that would hit aviation workers in Europe. In Spring, who would have imagined that the travel restrictions will stay put even 9 months later? 

If you look at the business forecasts about aviation, you can tell the pessimists from the optimists apart. Some analysts believe that European aviation will not reach the traffic level from 2019 until 2028. There are even opinions that aviation will never really recover because of a fundamentally changed travel behaviour. Passengers will stay away en masse, partly because of remote working & fewer business trips. 

Nobody knows how aviation will look like after the corona crisis, even as we are approaching a turning point

Lately, the storylines have become a bit more optimistic. The rapidly advancing vaccine development, as well as the first emergency approval of a vaccine in Europe, are giving a sense of cautious optimism. 

The developments surrounding rapid testing are also very encouraging. Several countries are using rapid tests which give results within 15 minutes. From mid-December, the US carrier Delta will fly "quarantine-free" between Atlanta and Rome, with tests on departure and arrival. These types of tests and initiatives seem to be the best way to resume international travel and restore passenger confidence until vaccines become widely available.

The reality is that nobody knows how aviation will look like after the corona crisis, even as we are approaching a turning point. Predictions about changing travel behaviour contrast with the belief that consumers want a return to normalcy, asap. There are indications that the latter is the case looking at the recovery of domestic flying in China and a strong increase in travel during this summer in Europe and recently the week of Thanksgiving in the US.

I choose to be an optimist. In the face of this unprecedented crisis, I believe there is room for optimism, for being hopeful about the future, without losing sight of the challenges in front of us. I am convinced that the latest developments will lead to a strong recovery in aviation. Unfortunately, the pace at which this recovery will take place is difficult to predict, but it does mean that many of our colleagues who are either furloughed or made redundant will have prospects to look forward to. 

From ECA we will do everything we can to ensure that we support our colleagues in this! My approach is clear and I wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. Let's all look forward to a brighter future!


by Capt. Otjan de Bruijn, ECA President