How air travel has changed in 2021

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

As we wind down 2021, the thousands of holiday flights canceled due to the Unleashed Variation of Omicron is another blow to an industry that is grappling with lost revenue, disruptive passengers, and being at the forefront of both interpreting and enforcing government Covid regulations.

Here we take a look back at how CNN has covered the biggest developments in aviation over the past 12 months.

Passports and vaccine warrants

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been barely a year since the UK Marguerite Keenan became in December 2020 the first person in the world to receive a vaccine against Covid-19. Today, more than eight billion were administered.
The airline industry has had to adapt quickly. While now we get used to all the digital documentation we need to fly, it wasn’t until January that the United States introduction of Covid tests and CNN was speculating on the ethics and practicality of the introduction “Passports for vaccines”.
Attitudes towards vaccination mandates for airline personnel varied across the world, proving particularly controversial in the United States, where Delta Air Lines and Southwest insisted on making them compulsory for their workers.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House’s senior medical adviser, said in September he supported a mandate for passengers too, but the travel industry was not on board and this remains a relatively rare measure in the world. In October, Air New Zealand has become one of the most prominent airlines announce a passenger mandate, which it will implement in February 2022.

The first line of execution

Industry net losses for 2021 are expected to be close to $ 52 billion, but in addition to these financial problems, the work was becoming more and more difficult for the employees of the airlines responsible for taking us in the air.

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

In addition to grappling with passengers who do not want to wear masks or who try to drink their own alcohol in flight, airlines have had to keep up with the rapidly evolving and often confusing Covid legislation introduced by governments.

In April, a domestic Australian flight was delayed for so long quarantine rules have changed while passengers were in flight, while in December Ghana International Airport introduced some of Africa’s toughest regulations, $ 3,500 fine to airlines for every unvaccinated passenger they have flown in the country.

Busy planes and rising prices

Cancellations, crowded planes and ever higher fares have become the “new normal” for air travel in the United States, CNN wrote in November. The operational collapses of Southwest and American Airlines led to the recent cancellations of thousands of flights, but staff shortages also resulted in overwork for flight crews, while fewer flight choices resulted in more expensive tickets.

A small advantage for consumers in the age of Covid is that many airlines around the world have introduced and retained much greater flexibility when it comes to changing flights at short notice. However, flying is now often a stressful and costly experience overall – not helped by ‘fit-to-fly’ Covid testing still being a Wild West of private companies offering extremely varied levels of service and value for money.

Hello, goodbye and see you later

CNN’s Richard Quest boards JetBlue Airlines’ first transatlantic flight and discusses the travel challenges JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes faced ahead of the launch of the New York-London route.

In February, Bombardier announced it was ceasing production of the iconic Learjet airplane, the small private jet that for decades was synonymous with high-end business travel.
In contrast to the size scale, the last Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger airline – was delivered to its customer airline Emirates in December.
The A380s and dozens of other planes continued to be stockpiled by airlines due to lack of pandemic demand, although many reappeared as travel increased during the summer season. In the Californian desert, there was even a problem with the parked A380s. attract rattlesnakes.
And in China, the eagerly awaited Chengdu Tianfu International Airport opened in China. Built at a cost of around $ 10.8 billion, the first phase of the mega-hub has the capacity to handle up to 60 million passengers per year.

The “hijacking” of Belarus

Willie Walsh, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told CNN’s Becky Anderson that the hijacked Ryanair flight was an “extremely dangerous action.”

In May, Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius was forcibly diverted to Minsk, escorted by Belarusian fighter jets, in order for Belarusian authorities to arrest opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian companion Sofia Sapega.

Three days after the incident, European airlines were formally barred from flying over Belarusian airspace, de facto redraw the aerial map of Europe.

The carbon issue

At its annual meeting in October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved a resolution in favor of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

With a focus on climate change at the COP26 summit in Scotland in November, CNN produced this lengthy read on how we’re about to become a reality of guilt-free theft.
We have also kept abreast of the latest developments in low carbon alternative air travel, such as helium airships for intercity journeys.
However, gas-guzzling leisure travel was by no means the order of the day in 2021. “Flights to nowhere” – round-trip sightseeing tours – were all the rage, especially in Asia-Pacific. A Travel to Qantas to see the super moon and the complete lunar eclipse 40,000 feet over Australia ran out in May in 2.5 minutes.

The supersonic dream hit the turbulence

The long-held dream of a Concorde successor faded a bit when Aerion, one of the main players in the race to build a supersonic airliner, collapsed in May after running out of cash. It had only been a few months since he had announced big plans for a sophisticated new world headquarters to produce his family of planes.
Meanwhile, Colorado-based Boom Supersonic is pursuing plans to take off the 1: 3 scale prototype airplane from its Overture jet. Ambitions remain high: CEO Blake Scholl told CNN in May that the company’s goal was to “Fly anywhere in the world in four hours for $ 100.”
Atlanta-based Hermeus is working on an even faster solution hypersonic passenger jet – that means speeds of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. That would get a plane from New York to London in just 90 minutes, making Concorde’s three hours slow.

Evolution of the cabin

By 2022 and beyond, first class is disappearing from many airlines, with business class options becoming more luxurious.

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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