How air travel will change in 2021

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(CNN) – It has been another turbulent year for aviation.

As we end 2021, thousands of holiday flights have been canceled because of the Omicron version, giving yet another hammer to an industry that is teeming with lost revenue, disruptive passengers is struggling, and is on the front lines of both interpreting and enforcing governments’ COVID rules.

Here we look back and see how CNN covered the biggest developments in aviation over the past 12 months.

Vaccine passport and mandate

It’s hard to believe, but it’s barely a year since Britain’s Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. Today, over eight billion have been administered.
The airline industry has had to adapt rapidly. While we are now getting used to all the digital documents needed to fly, it was only in January that the United States began COVID testing and CNN was speculating on the ethics and practicality of introducing a “vaccine passport”.
The approach to vaccine mandates for airline employees around the world proved particularly controversial in the US, where Delta Air Lines and Southwest prohibited making them mandatory for their employees.
Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser, said in September that he supported a mandate for travelers as well, but the travel industry was not on board and it is a relatively unusual measure around the world. In October, Air New Zealand became one of the highest-profile airlines to announce a passenger mandate, which it would implement in February 2022.

front line of enforcement

Net industry losses for 2021 are expected to be closer to $52 billion, but on top of these financial woes, work was becoming increasingly difficult for the airline workers responsible for ferrying us through the skies.

Flight attendants are getting self-defense training as the number of unruly passengers increases. CNN’s Pete Muntian reports.

As well as battling passengers who don’t want to wear masks or who try to drink their own alcohol, airlines have to keep up with the rapidly changing and often confusing COVID legislation introduced by governments.

In April, an Australian domestic flight was delayed so the lengthy quarantine rules were changed to allow passengers to stay in mid-air, while in December, Ghana’s international airport introduced some of Africa’s toughest rules , which entailed a $3,500 fine for every passenger who flew into the country.

Busy planes and rising fares

CNN wrote in November that cancellations, packed planes and ever-increasing fares have become the “new normal” for US air travel. Operational slowdowns at Southwest and American Airlines were behind the recent thousands of flight cancellations, but staff shortages were also leading to overworked flight crews, while fewer options on flights led to more expensive tickets.

A small advantage for consumers in the post-Covid era is that many airlines globally have switched flights at short notice and retain a lot of flexibility. However, flying is now often a stressful and costly experience – not helped by “fit to fly”, COVID testing is still a Wild West of private companies with vastly different levels of service and value for money. level offers.

hello bye and see you later

CNN’s Richard Quest boards JetBlue Airlines’ first transatlantic flight and discusses the travel challenges JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes dealt with before the launch of the New York to London route.

In February, Bombardier announced that it was ceasing production of the iconic Learjet aircraft, a small private jet that for decades was synonymous with high-end business travel.
At the opposite end of the size scale, the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airline, was delivered to its customer airline Emirates in December.
The A380, and scores of other aircraft, continued to be put into storage by airlines due to the pandemic’s lack of demand, although many were restarted as travel increased during the summer season. In the deserts of California, there was also a problem with parked A380s attracting rattlesnakes.
And in China, the long-awaited Chengdu Tianfu International Airport opened in China. Built at a cost of about $10.8 billion, the first phase of the mega-hub has the capacity to handle 60 million passengers per year.

Belarus ‘kidnapped’

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told CNN’s Becky Anderson that the diverted Ryanair flight was an “extremely dangerous act”.

In May, Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius was forcibly diverted to Minsk, escorted by Belarusian fighter jets, so that Belarusian authorities could arrest opposition activist Roman Protsevich and his Russian partner Sofia Sapega. Can you

Three days after the incident, European airlines were formally barred from flying over Belarusian airspace, effectively redrawing the air map of Europe.

carbon question

At its annual meeting in October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) rubber-stamped a proposal in support of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

With the focus on climate change during the COP26 summit in Scotland in November, CNN took a long read on how close we are to guilt-free flight becoming a reality.
We also kept up with the latest developments in low-carbon alternative air travel, such as helium-fueled airships for inter-city travel.
Carbon-chugging pleasure trips were not off the agenda in 2021, however. “Flights to nowhere”—round-trip sightseeing tours—was a fad, especially in the Asia-Pacific. A Qantas trip to see the supermoon and total lunar eclipse 40,000 feet above Australia sold out in May in 2.5 minutes.

supersonic dream hit turbulence

The long-held dream of a successor to Concorde fell a little further when Ariane, one of the major players in the race to build a supersonic passenger jet, collapsed in May after running out of cash. It was only a few months after it announced grand plans for a fancy new global headquarters to produce its family of jets.
Meanwhile, Boom Supersonic, Colorado, is moving forward with its plans to bring a 1:3 scale prototype aircraft of its Overture jet into the air. Its ambitions are lofty: CEO Blake Sholl told CNN in May that the company aimed to “fly anywhere in the world in four hours for $100.”
Atlanta-based Herms is working on an even faster hypersonic passenger jet—meaning a speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. That would give a plane from New York to London in just 90 minutes, leaving Concorde’s three hours looking sluggish.

cabin development

Looking into 2022 and beyond, first class is disappearing from many airlines, with business class becoming a more luxurious rather than an option.

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