There was further evidence this week that the travel industry is beginning to stir following the coronavirus pandemic. In their latest joint travel report, Oxford Economics and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed global air traffic has been slowly increasing since its low point in mid-April during the height of COVID-19. They added that domestic flights in Asia Pacific and North America are seeing the fastest growth, while international and long-haul flights are expected to take longer to recover. David Goodger, managing director of Tourism Economics, EMEA at Oxford Economics, said there was ‘no one-size-fits-all solution’ and that it was imperative for travel operators to balance supply and demand in order to succeed in the future.
The findings from the report were backed up by positive news from airports and airlines. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport revealed domestic passenger traffic at the start of July reached around 90% of volumes recorded during the same period in 2019. Virgin Atlantic also announced that it has resumed passenger operations with flights from London Heathrow.
The road to full recovery, however, remains a long and difficult one. This was highlighted by the latest financial results from international carrier United Airlines, which reported a $1.6bn loss in the last quarter. The airline is making sweeping changes to its operations, such as increasing air circulation on its planes, to promote safe travel and encourage the return of travellers.
Even in the midst of such challenging conditions, work is continuing on many vital travel projects. This week saw the completion of the new Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport, which is set to boost tourism in northeast Asia and incorporates a number of features to benefit passengers and the local environment. These include a starfish-shaped design of five connected concourses which will reduce walking distances between check-in and the farthest gates, and green water treatment systems to collect and recycle excess rainwater.