A little more than a year after the nightmare of the pandemic began, the Boston Consulting Group, the American multinational management consulting company published a report with projections on the future of air transport, one of the sectors most affected by the crisis. According to the BCG, there are three possible scenarios for the recovery of the sector.
The most important premise is that it will all depend on vaccination campaigns and the speed with which countries will vaccinate their populations. In the best-case scenario, which is what obviously the aviation and the transport sector in general hopes for, we will return to normal no earlier than 2023. To make this happen, the health situation should be regularized by the summer of 2021. This means that by then a large part of the population should be vaccinated, accurate pre-travel quick tests should be made available and, of course, travel restrictions should be lifted, giving the go-ahead for travel for any reason.
In the event that the distribution of vaccines should be slower and end between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, the recovery will only take place at the end of 2024. In the worst case scenario, however, it is expected that a return to pre-Covid levels of air transport may even occur no earlier than 2025. This will happen if the vaccination plan continues through 2022, with the consequent extension of travel restrictions.
In addition to the timing of the recovery, the report also highlights a number of changes that will affect the entire travel industry. As regards, for example, business trips, the BCG believes that, due to a progressive normalization of smartworking and web events (such as meetings and conferences), business trips are destined to permanently decrease and therefore never return to pre-Covid levels. 91% of the CEOs interviewed are convinced of this.
Leisure travel, on the other hand, should return to normal in a shorter time. Even here, however, changes are expected, for example in the choice of destinations, with a preference for closer destinations, and therefore for medium and short routes. In fact, over half of travelers will prefer to move within their own country. Furthermore, “air travel will in most cases be taken into account for distances over 500 miles: only 18% of travelers will choose to fly to cover distances between 251 and 500 miles and just 6.4% for distances up to 250 miles. In fact, the car will still be preferred to the plane: when we return to travel 66% of families, 60% of couples and half of solo travelers will choose to use the car (and respectively only 33%, 32% and 43% of these categories will opt for the plane).” In short, the road to recovery is long and winding.