One of the clearest signs that the COVID-19 nightmare may soon be behind us is the announcement of new airlines coming into play: flyPOP (UK), Play (Iceland), EGO Airways (Italy), Norse Atlantic Airways & Flyr (Norway) or SouthEast Airlines (Slovenia)...
And this is somewhat good news for thousands of pilots who have lost their jobs in the last year or so.
The opportunities are there: multiple startups relying on cheap aircraft leasing, lots of unused aircraft, slots available, gaps on the market as a result of bankrupted airlines and, of course, pilots desperately needing a job.
When looking at who is behind some of these “new” projects, one starts to suspect maybe some of them are not so new. Names related to some failed projects (WOW, Norwegian, etc.) are back on stage again.
I’m of the opinion there is nothing wrong with failing. Failed opportunities become lessons learnt. My fear, however, is that our industry has learnt insufficiently from this crisis. Unsustainable business models prompted a competitive and social race to the bottom, that could be won only with an even more aggressive cost-cutting and more social engineering. And this harmful model is looming again.
Names related to some failed projects are back on stage again
Why not start something really new? Why not start with a model where financial benefits will come together with social and environmental benefits too?
Airlines that provide their staff with the good working conditions. Airlines that provide high quality and the fair service that their passengers deserve. Airlines that care about the environment and whose aim is really to connect people instead of filling the European airspace with more and more aircraft. Airlines that don’t cheat their customers by offering unrealistic fares at the cost of watering down the conditions of those who work for them. In a nutshell, airlines that add value to the European landscape.
New socially responsible operators are always welcome. But allowing opportunistic airlines with little respect for the rights and conditions of their workers to develop and take advantage of the crisis will destroy our social structure.
Europe has a choice now. Europe needs new ideas, new models. This industry can start thinking more “social and green”, become a resilient player that can support and amplify the wider economy. Or make the same mistakes again.
by Juan Carlos Lozano, ECA Vice-President
Airbus A320 Captain Iberia