Nobody likes delays, but cancellations are a different beast altogether. The average domestic airline ticket costs $379, so it’s an expensive problem to have – but, thankfully, cancellations are relatively rare in an ordinary world.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to sweep across the globe, however, the pandemic’s effects have been incredibly far-reaching in terms of the cancellation of travel – from simple walks to a friend’s house to commercial flights across Europe and Asia.
In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that the combination of trip cancellations and travel restrictions could cost the industry $880 billion. They are likely to continue to affect the industry for the foreseeable future, as social distancing measures continue. Thankfully, there are signs that help is at hand, in the form of support both for the firms and their flyers.
Innovation in the crisis
As a case in point, the EU regulations regarding flight delays are readily accessible but also highly specific and detailed.
When many might only experience a cancellation on rare occasions, the tech industry appears to be answering the call with alternative solutions for the thousands of customers left with flights to board. Specialized service providers such as Flightright are making help accessible, assisting air passengers in enforcing their legal rights with digital legal assistance and online compensation calculators – known as legaltech – making flight delay compensation significantly easier to access and manage for consumers who are affected.
While the loss of travel itself is difficult to circumvent, the financial burden of flight delays is likely to continue to be an essential feature of the pandemic over the coming months. Access to the necessary legal advice in a digital, mobile format and supporting the customer side of the crisis is a positive step to overcoming the lockdown restrictions that prohibit seeking traditional, face-to-face legal advice.
Signs of support
From the airlines’ perspective, the COVID-19 outbreak is a tougher challenge altogether. The financial stimulus request from the airline industry, which has the potential to buoy these companies up over the next few months is one possible temporary measure, but it is just that, temporary and costly – U.S airlines have been discussing figures of upwards of $60 billion in bailouts and direct government assistance.
The signs of support are centered on many airlines going into a form of “hibernation” status until the crisis subsides and travel restrictions are eased. United airlines CEO-in-waiting, Scott Kirby, commented on the sense of caution by stating that the industry needs to be careful about its expectations:
“We can’t be too aggressive about assuming [recovery is] right around the corner and expecting the so-called V-shaped recovery because if it doesn’t happen, we put ourselves in even more risk and even more danger.”
The airline industry, and the world, will recover from this adversity. Often in times like these, people find ways to adapt and overcome.
What we can see on both sides of the industry – from the companies to the customer – is an adaptation, via technology or otherwise, taking place. While compensation is a just and reasonable measure for people to take and can offer some positive outcome in all the uncertainty, the sooner the world can return to business as usual, the better for those who want to fly and those that can make it happen.