Transportation: Yes, it is time to take off again | Business

Editor’s note: This article was published in the Record-Eagle’s Economic Outlook 2020 section. For more stories, click here to read the section in its entirety online.

Kevin Klein


The travel industry will be the leader in bringing the economy back. We will take off and succeed post-COVID-19.

In order to succeed, we must change strategies because traffic is down, airports across the country have been shocked, and the normal flow of travel has been disrupted. Airports will need to adapt and change their organization to meet the industry changes now and in the future. Businesses will reinvent and restructure. Travel must meet the expectations of being safer and healthier than before COVID.

Consumers currently are confused, frightened and misinformed — but they will be quick to recover and will want to travel.

The first change we must implement: Eliminate traveler stress. The traveler must have trust.

IATA Medical Advisor David Powell recently announced that a passenger was more like to be struck by lightning than get COVID from an airplane. Air quality (HEPA filters), masks, washing hands, hand sanitizer and passenger screening means travelers are safer.

New technology will lead the way. Instead of looking at empty terminals as a crisis, we need to be looking at them as a canvas. The introduction of touchless solutions is not a new concept, but a concept that will lead innovation opportunities for cleaning and safety. Mobile applications, for check-in and purchasing, will make travel seamless. This technology is making social distancing a norm, not just a mark on the floor.

Airlines are looking at where people are booking, and are changing their networks to meet that demand.

Many travelers are asking, “When the airline routes will return?” The airlines are questioning when you are going to fly.

The airlines are waiting to install the capacity when the customer is confident in flying. Travelers are currently booking in the short term, 7 to 14 days. As this pattern adjusts, routes will return quickly to meet the demand. Travel will be about the customers’ sentiment toward the destination — and that makes Northern Michigan the place to be.

Destinations across the United States are recovering at vastly different rates depending on COVID cases — but leisure travel is returning the fastest. Industry carriers like Allegiant, Sun Country, and Frontier already have seen solid returns to certain markets while legacy carriers like United, Delta and American have shifted the usual hub-and-spoke system by adding more point-to-point leisure destinations.

Digital technology platforms like ZOOM will move the traveler from typical large cities to smaller cities and rural regions. We have seen this trend prior to COVID, realizing one can live, work and play anywhere on the globe. COVID has only accelerated this issue, because many people want to leave the big cities.

This will be a long-term benefit for markets like Traverse City as travel shifts back to the leisure focus. ZOOM all week and travel for fun on the weekend.

Recovery will come at two speeds: First domestic, second international. Many countries aren’t opening their borders, so international travel will lag the domestic recovery. Many airliners will be utilized in a different manner. Widebody passenger aircraft are being used as combo passenger and cargo freighters. Cargo will be the driver to bring the return of international routes.

Airline fleets will change from small regional jets to larger regional jets. The number of flights will decrease, but the number of seats will increase. More seats mean better fares. The used aircraft market has been flooded with low-time airframes, giving ultra-low-cost carriers the ability to expand their fleets.

When you are ready, TVC is ready for you! The team at TVC works for your safety and trust. We want you to feel safe and enjoy your travels.

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