App in the Air is dedicated to sharing the most up-to-date travel information with its users, sourced from users. We’ve been talking a lot lately about the ways in which we adjust to this new normal, but is it truly a new normal? What will the world of aviation look like tomorrow, next year, and five years from now? What COVID-era changes are permanent for travelers, and what is just a passing precaution?
We’re not in the business of predicting the future, but what we can do is lean on our valued user experiences, and the expertise of our own leadership who carry a wealth of knowledge on the subject. CEO and Founder of App in the Air, Bayram Annakov is one of those leaders with measured insights and a finger on the pulse of the aviation industry. Here’s what he has to say about the future of travel.
How do you think air travel will change by 2022?
Post-COVID, I imagine air travel as a ‘flow of energy’ — akin to physics where energy is neither created nor destroyed; it just changes form. Where will the energy for air travel go? I anticipate that passenger volumes and value will most likely flow from business travel to some other parts of the industry based on increasing flexibility and time of certain groups of people. There is a corollary between earnings and travel; the more we earn, the more we travel — but at some point, more income does not result in more travel. Why? If the limit is not money — it’s about time. Basically, we don’t have time because we have to go to the office and don’t have the ability to travel as much as our income affords us to. I expect an increase in the frequency of travel due to increased flexibility as people continue to work from home.
What can travelers expect when flying in the future?
I think the aviation industry is the leader when it comes to employing new safety standards and protocols. We can expect a safer flying experience and a more proactive approach to wellness in the future.
How do you see technology playing a role in the future of travel?
I think technology is the enabler of the ‘work from home’ trend, and the COVID pandemic was a strong trigger in the acceleration of this trend. I see a huge increase in the utilization of health security technologies in the future of flight. We can expect health concerns to remain a major part of air security for some time in the future.
Do you think the design of airplanes will change post-COVID?
Unfortunately, due to the financial struggles our industry is experiencing I expect fewer investments made by manufacturers, thus fewer equipment design innovations in the foreseeable future.
Who will return to travel first?
I will! In fact, I have already traveled six times since the post-lockdown period, although that number is admittedly lower than my typical flight average. If we look to China’s progression, it is singles and middle-aged couples that are returning to flight first.
Thoughts on how airlines can incentivize loyalty (voucher debate) moving forward?
I am a little bit worried that airlines are using their loyalty programs as a guarantee for the loans they’ve been forced to take out due to challenges the industry is facing now. That means airlines will do more to incentivize us spending on branded loyalty cards. Assuming they expect lower load factors in the next couple of years, I’d expect deflation of points, more award seats, softening pre-requisites for FFP tiers, and new partnerships with e-commerce brands to move beyond the air travel side of our life.
What inspires you?
Not what, who. People. People inspire me to keep moving forward. Enabling people to fulfill their goals, aspirations, dreams and overcome challenges is my personal mission.
Aside from all of the necessary health precautions that will reshape the future of air travel, it is impossible to ignore what will arguably be the biggest change amongst flyers. Working from home means working from anywhere. Travelers have more freedom than ever now that they are untethered from an office space. Working from anywhere will surely increase the flexibility of travel for all flyers, and the line between business travel and leisure travel will blur as flyers jet around the world, while on the clock.
Here at App in the Air, this is a trend we are monitoring closely, and as you adapt to the new normal of travelers, we will do the same.