What We're Made Of - Kemplay Consulting: Iain Kemplay

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Iain Kemplay
MD, Kemplay Consulting
Location: London
Day 12 of working from home
Date of writing: April 2

Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes, London has moved from a working day of mass mobilization and vibrant movement to an eerily quiet and ghostly pale grey version of itself!

Where are you writing from? Describe your current workspace.
The kids’ former “playroom,” now workspace and dumping ground, as we continue to shuffle things around to accommodate some DIY while having the whole family in the house all hours (see photo).

What news outlets are you following?
I’m keeping it simple with BBC News as the key source, taking the view that too much news and social media is a deep dive into despair!

How are you passing time?
I’m getting to grips with all those things you never quite get around to sorting out during normal run of the mill days. But I’m also having better family time – playing board games pulled from cupboards, eating freshly baked cakes and scones galore, practicing football skills sessions in the park as exercise – re-watching all of Killing Eve and ploughing through The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson, which is fantastic.

We have been developing plans for a new IFE service business and it now feels like completely the right thing to do, because there will be a shakedown in the market and an appetite to do new things.

Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
Keep the workplace/station separated from the rest of the activity in the house; get into a regime, so treat the day as a normal workday; keep away from distractions like TV. If you finish up early, don’t try and fill the space, break out and do other things!

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
It’s interesting, there has always been that adage about crisis driving change and creating opportunity. We have been developing plans for a new IFE service business and it now feels like completely the right thing to do, because there will be a shakedown in the market and an appetite to do new things.

How do you feel about your government’s response to the crisis (both generally and specifically as it pertains to the airline business)?
It’s a mammoth challenge in unchartered waters for the UK government – the response has been the right one but the sense persists that early hesitations on timing have meant that it feels like we are running hard to try and catch up with where we could/should have been. The airline and IFE service industry is taking a hammering – Flybe has gone, Virgin Atlantic is seeking a bail-out, EasyJet says it can ride the storm. Shareholders are going to have to dig deep and the banks and government need to demonstrate their state supported aid packages will work and be readily available, otherwise a lot will fall by the wayside.

Where do you see the commercial aviation industry in six months from now? One year?
Six months from now, a battered, bleary aviation industry will be blinking back into the sunlight, trying to re-establish business across territories piecemeal as they re-open their airspace and airports. It’ll be a slow slog to return to where things were but heading into 2021, as confidence and appetite to travel grows, there should be an accelerated re-birth and new growth, with new companies emerging to challenge the status quo.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
Hindsight will probably show us it is something we could not have predicted. As Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp said of top level football, “We are the important part of the unimportant things in life.” I think that is true of aviation and most other businesses.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.