And just like that… another crazy year is in the books. Like all of us, the aviation industry endured its fair share of highs and lows in 2021. This year, we watched as airline staff managed the rising tension on aircrafts over mask and vaccine mandates, witnessed other airlines make history as they pledged to reduce their carbon footprint, and continued to adjust to the changes in mandates and airport procedures as a result of COVID-19. Read on for App in the Air’s 2021 recap.
At the start of 2021, a rising trend in virtual zero-contact procedures developed in the aviation industry. Delta Airlines expanded their partnership with TSA to create a ‘digital identity experience’ allowing passengers to go paperless and use facial recognition when passing through security and boarding. United Airlines began a partnership with PayPal to develop a QR code passengers can use to make in-flight purchases. Air Baltic also began accepting popular cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. These advancements, along with many others, display a rise in virtual forms of communication and procedures as a way to create efficiency, ease-stress, and promote health and safety in the flight process.
Saving the Planet
Another rising trend in 2021 was the ongoing efforts to save the planet. Airbus and Jetblue partnered with aviation companies to explore the use of hydrogen-powered engines in aircrafts. Alaska Airlines reaffirmed their goal to reach net-zero emissions by signing a global carbon agreement and by becoming the first carrier to remove all single-use plastic cups onboard aircrafts. We are hopeful that these efforts to reduce carbon emissions continue to take off in 2022.
Expansion in the Aviation Industry
Three new airlines emerged this year: Avelo Airlines, Breeze Airways, and aha! Avelo Airlines flies to 11 destinations out of Burbank, California. Breeze Airways has 39 routes and was created to offer more non-stop service flights. Finally, aha! Is a regional airline that offers connecting routes between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and eight U.S. destinations.
United Airlines announced plans to hire 10,000 new pilots by the end of the decade and a total of 25,000 more employees by 2026.
Delta Airlines is working to combat the recent staffing shortages and plans to hire over 1,000 more pilots by next summer. In 2021, Delta also added 100 new flights out of JFK and LaGuardia airports to meet the rising demand for international travel.
Travel Advisories and Mandates
Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the CDC’s travel advisory list change, as case numbers worldwide began to rise and fall. When the new COVID-19 Delta variant numbers rose, the CDC made the decision to move a few popular tourist destinations to the level 4 “highest risk” travel guideline. The guidelines loosened then tightened once again with news of the Omicron variant most recently. Those who are itching to get back to travel have been forced to become adaptable and understanding of the never-ending uncertainty and have promoted vaccine and mask-use as the best way to protect from the ongoing spread.
Airlines such as United, Frontier, and Hawaiian, became the pioneers for vaccination requirements. Delta Airlines raised insurance premiums by $200 a month for unvaccinated employees. Following the Biden Administration’s federal worker vaccine mandate, Southwest Airlines implemented the vaccine mandate to their entire workforce of 56,000 people as well. As the year went on, more and more airlines followed, urging or requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated.
Finishing the year off strong, App in the Air developed and released a new digital health passport that directly donates vaccines to other countries in need, creating easier access to frequent fliers and expanding global health support worldwide.
With 2022 ahead, we are most looking forward to new adventures with the hope of health and safety all around. We also look forward to seeing the continuous new developments in the business and sustainable practices of the industry. While 2021 had its hardships, we were grateful to get back into the sky and hope to embark on new journeys in the coming year.
That’s all for now. Cheers to 2022!