Industry Leaders Take Stock of Air Travel’s Ongoing Recovery from COVID-19

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The FTE APEX Virtual Expo kicks off with a session hosted by BBC World News presenter Zeinab Badawi that will explore “Leadership Perspectives on Relaunching Global Air Transport.” APEX Media gained early access to the content, and has highlighted some key areas of the discussion

During the opening session at FTE APEX Virtual Expo, Rob Gurney, CEO at oneworld, shared strong opinions about ongoing quarantine requirements, calling the process a “blunt instrument” with a “catastrophic” economic and social impact. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director general at ACI World, agreed that while health authorities are looking to implement a “zero risk” approach, the concept unfortunately doesn’t exist in the context of COVID-19, or any other. 

For APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader, the most important thing is making it “so that passengers can travel if they can’t get vaccinated.” He acknowledged the fact there will continue to be “vaccine inequity,” but argued, “we owe it to our world to make travel a level playing field.”

“The adage “plan for the worst and prepare for the best” is certainly relevant.”

Rob Gurney, oneworld

All three panelists were in agreement that digital health passports will play an important role in relaunching global air transport, but that improvements needed to be made to current offerings. de Oliveira said he recently took a trip that required the use of three or four different apps and solutions, something that “creates confusion among frequent flyers, let alone normal travelers” that fly only a couple of times a year. 

Leader highlighted the fact that in the US, there’s no federal database logging the people that have received the vaccine, which means health passports are using artificial intelligence to validate passengers’ documents. He asserted that this validation should be cross-referenced between the 30 different health passport companies, so that passengers need only be certified once. de Oliveira added that interoperability with global government systems is also necessary.

While health passport providers and governments may need to work more closely together, Gurney maintained that the collaboration between airlines and airports throughout the pandemic has taken place at a “granular level.” He nodded to the fact that airlines have long been arguing for co-location together with other carriers in their alliances, which presented a challenge for airports at full capacity. However, Gurney believes the pandemic has allowed airports to reorganize in a way that’s a win-win for everyone. For example, he said “There can be less airport lounges” if an alliance’s flights are all in one place, “and the space can be used by airports for other revenue-generating services. 

The Leadership Perspectives on Relaunching Global Air Transport” panel session is taking place on May 25 at 07:00 – 07:55 BST. Zeinab Badawi is also moderating the Women in Aviation Leadership Summit at FTE APEX Virtual Expo on May 26 at 07:00 – 08:00 BST. Register for FTE APEX Virtual Expo.

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