Winston Churchill famously said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”
The former British Prime Minister’s quote has seldom been more appropriate than now given the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic. It was certainly a directive that was adopted by speakers and delegates alike during this week’s AviaDev Europe online conference. Rising to the theme of adapt, develop and engage, the overriding message from discussions was clear – don’t be afraid, address the challenges, adjust your model and do not waste this downturn.
“This is a whole new card game and the reality is nobody knows the rules,” offered Claus Raasted, Director for the College of Extraordinary Experiences. He delivered an invigorating talk on how to exploit the unique possibilities of a crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, in which he cited Churchill’s quote. “Those who dare, get to rewrite the rules. If you just wait and repeat what you did yesterday, you will fail,” he enthused.
It was fitting then that ahead of the event, Juraj Toth, Managing Director of AviaDev Europe, told Regional Gateway that he was “Excited and proud of the AviaDev Europe team, that we are the first in this space to launch a platform for the route development community to get together online, in the post-COVID world.”
Giving advice on how airlines can survive and rethink their future, Becca Rowland at MIDAS Aviation warned regional carriers they will need to work harder to be more competitive. She also referenced how passenger preferences have changed. “Safety and security concerns around connecting through airports are real and passengers will increasingly want to fly nonstop. Domestic and local regional travel will be first to recover, but long-haul travel will take longer. There are ways to make connectivity and hub systems work but those airports focused on long-haul connectivity will struggle,” she said.
Referencing how the current situation has provided tourism boards with an opportunity to regain their position of power at the aviation strategy table, Gavin Eccles, Professor of Aviation and Tourism Management, urged airports to work more closely with tourist boards to give confidence to airlines. He added, “However, we must be careful that we are coordinated in our approach so that airports and local tourism authorities don’t end up competing with each other.”
Shining the spotlight on the issue of seasonality and how it affects the aviation and tourist industry, Gerard Brown, Founder and CEO of Low Season Traveller (pictured), underlined the need for a collaborative approach. “Budgets are being cut so we should be using some form of barter system,” he advised. “Your airport or destination has a database of contacts that is different to mine. We can help promote each other’s business to our respective networks. No money changes hands, but in the long run we both benefit.”
The need to introduce rapid, cost-effective COVID testing at airports and the call for greater harmonisation over travel restrictions were also discussed, with Max Oldorf from CH Aviation illustrating how there was a definite and sharp increase in air travel when Europe opened its borders and eased travel restrictions in May, but a clear decrease in demand when the restrictions were reintroduced at the end of August.
The conferencing wrapped up with an insightful panel discussion on how regional aircraft are helping to rebuild the airline industry. And alluding to Churchill’s quote, Sameer Adam, Regional Vice President, Sales – Europe, Russia & CIS, Middle East and Africa at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, concluded that stakeholders across the regional aviation sector need to focus on the long game, saying “It’s about looking to the horizon and coming out of the COVID pandemic having made a difference!”
Have a great weekend and don’t forget, if you haven’t already seen it, the latest issue of Regional Gateway magazine is out now!
Editor, Regional Gateway.