How COVID-19 Will Change Air Travel As We Know It
In 2001, air travel was dealt a massive blow by the 11 September attacks, and the effects lasted years. But this was a ripple compared to what COVID-19 will do.
In the heart of Australian outback lies Alice Springs. The town - colloquially known as Alice - is the site of indigenous human presence dating back nearly 30,000 years. More recently, however, a new (and admittedly very different) type of settler has descended upon Alice. Since April, four Airbus A380s have made their way to the small town. The 500-plus-tonne behemoths belong to Singapore Airlines which, like many other carriers, has grounded almost its entire fleet.
Slumps in travel demand aren't new. Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, passenger enthusiasm towards flying also waned amid security fears. This forced airlines - then, like now - to cancel flights and puts planes into storage. The industry did recover. Passenger numbers for 2002 were 1.63 billion, only slightly lower than the 1.66 billion who flew in 2001. But passenger numbers don't tell the whole story.