2020 has been a year that the airline industry will want to forget. Nonetheless, many lessons would have been learned and these will be taken into the new year. Let’s take a look at what we can look forward to in 2021 now that it has finally come.
21. Alaska’s oneworld membership
It felt right to kick off the list with something that’s been highly anticipated, especially for oneworld members. On March 31st, for the first time in its 88-year history, Alaska Airlines will become a member of a global airline alliance. Other carriers in the alliance have expressed their excitement about the move, especially Qatar Airways!
20. Sustainability initiatives
There have been breakthroughs in technology, with billions of dollars of investment going into more sustainable aircraft and fuel. We can expect to see new announcements when it comes to aircraft innovations in this field next year as airlines continue their commitments.
19. 777X reveals
While the 777X introduction has been delayed until at least 2022, we can look forward to plenty of updates with the program. The plane has gone through plenty of testing. Moreover, its GE9X achieved certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). So, we can expect some additional news ahead of its entry to service.
18. Increasing production
There have been significant aircraft production halts in 2020 amid the challenging conditions. However, manufacturers could keep with their plans to ramp up. For instance, Airbus shared that it is sticking with its planned A320 family production rate increase.
17. Dreamliner deliveries
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will see several new homes. El Al is planning to take on its final 787-8 in March 2021. Additionally, after flying its first Boeing 787-9 in 2020, Vistara is not slowing down with its deliveries of the model as it has been expecting to take on six more units. These planes will help the Indian carrier to carry on expanding across the seas following its European launch.
16. New business models
Following this year’s shakeup, airlines are having to go back to the drawing board to find ways to build up cash again. So, many companies will be looking at revising their business models. There has been a rise in airline subscriptions in recent years and the initiative is starting to gain traction. Following the likes of Volaris seeing results with this method, it won’t be a surprise to see more carriers jumping on the bandwagon in 2021.
15. Coming out of bankruptcy
There was a series of Chapter 11 bankruptcies as airlines needed to restructure. These airlines will be expecting to come back stronger as 2021 develops. LATAM has confirmed that it will come out of its reorganization process during the second half of the year.
14. Return to profits
Profits have been a long-gone memory for most carriers. However, there are already indications that several operators will be reporting profits sooner than later. Volaris expects to be profitable again as soon as the second quarter.
13. Rex Aviation’s Inter capital operations
In the first six months, passengers will be keeping an eye on Rex with its new Boeing 737-800 inter-capital jet services. The Australian carrier is expecting to fly between Sydney and Melbourne from March. With domestic operations having a refined focus in a country, this project could be a game-changer.
12. South American Startups
Several new carriers are emerging in South America. The likes of Ita Linhas Aereas, Nella Linhas Aereas, and Ultra Air will be looking to disrupt the industry. With the industry going through recovery, what better time to make a mark?
11. Breeze Airways
Speaking of startups, Breeze will be hitting the skies in 2021. David Neeleman’s project, which previously went by the name of Moxy will be making waves in the industry from March. The airline has already started pilot training and received its first aircraft, an Embraer E195-E1, last week.
10. New Hawaii Routes
Passengers will be treated to even more options to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines will be flying to the state nonstop from Austin, Texas from April 21st with twice-weekly trips. Furthermore, United Airlines will be heading to Maui from Newark four times a week from next June.
9. Bangalore expansions
It’s not just Hawaii that’s getting extra treatment. India’s famous tech center of Bangalore will have plenty of more flights heading into the city. American Airlines will be heading there from Seattle while United and Air India will be flying in and out from San Francisco.
8. Lift Airlines
Earlier this month, South African start-up LIFT Airline completed its maiden flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Just in time for the South African summer season, the carrier could make a name for itself amid South African Airways’ struggles.
7. Wizz Air in Abu Dhabi
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will operate its inaugural flight in the middle of next month. In a region that’s dominated by familiar players, it will be interesting to see how the low-cost carrier features in the market.
6. Emirates premium economy
After keeping passengers waiting for several years, Emirates finally revealed its premium economy cabin. Undoubtedly there will be plenty of travelers gearing up to try out the highly-anticipated offering.
5. JetBlue’s transatlantic launch
JetBlue is on track for its transatlantic single-aisle long-haul launch. The airline will be flying from Boston Logan and New York JFK to London using its new Airbus A321LR aircraft. This move will mark a new era in transatlantic aviation.
4. Return of the MAX
Since being grounded in March 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX is finally returning to the air. A handful of carriers are already deploying the plane. However, as the year gets going, we will be seeing many units at airports across the globe.
3. Immunity passports?
As governments try to put effective solutions for air travel into place amid the current climate, we could see the rise of immunity passports after the successful rollout of a vaccine. This sort of documentation divides opinion, but the likes of Qantas have already said that they would require passengers on future international operations to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
2. Reopening borders
With this progress in vaccination expected to continue throughout the year, we will hopefully see fewer borders being outright closed. So, the likes of Australia and several other Asia-Pacific nations can have life at their airports again.
1. Returning to the skies!
Operators have managed to hold on for the most part until now despite the extreme difficulties. As testing programs get more robust and vaccines continue to be rolled out, there will be more opportunities for passengers to fly high again. It’s not just customers that are looking to return to the air. Airline staff will also be eager to hit the skies after such a tough period.
What are you looking forward to most in 2021? Is there anything else that you are excited about? Let us know what you think in the comment section.