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What Does the Aviation Sector have in Store?

What Does the Aviation Sector have in Store?
The aviation sector has many changes owing to the pandemic , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The pandemic has not been easy on the aviation industry. But things are slowly starting to look up. We spoke to Karthik Viswanathan, Regional Manager, Indian Subcontinent, Qatar Airways to gauge what the sector is in for in the near future

Simrran Gill
December 02 , 2020
06 Min Read

How has the response for the aviation industry been as lockdown restrictions have eased?
The aviation industry, as we all know has been largely impacted by the pandemic. Indeed, it has been a very difficult year for all of us but we are gradually paving our path through it. At Qatar Airways, we are proud to be the largest international airline to have continued operations to help take passengers home - all necessary measures were taken to ensure safety is in place, and we are continuously updating all safety measures for a comfortable and safe travel experience. 

That said, with the easing of lockdown restrictions and introduction to air bubbles/travel arrangements, it gives us hope that all airlines will get back to the skies soon enough. The aviation industry has responded to the resumption of travel with resilience and vigilance. Safety has always been our number one priority, and especially now, it’s all the more vital. Safety and health continue to be at the core of all travel decisions by travellers, and at Qatar Airways, all our initiatives are aimed at addressing the obvious apprehensions around a time such as this. 

All our flights have an enhanced safety protocol for both passengers and cabin crew that includes requiring face shields and facemasks be worn by all passengers and additionally protective gowns for our cabin crew. Our crew are thermally screened before the departure of flights and after their arrival, are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight show any symptoms of infection or test positive for the virus. Large bottles of hand sanitisers are placed in the galleys and made available for both cabin crew and passengers. We apply the highest standards of cleanliness on board with our aircraft thoroughly disinfected and equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminates for re-circulated air, and thermal screening of our crew.

A designated set of guidelines have been put to place for passengers travelling via air-bubble travel arrangements. 

For more information on travel restrictions concerning travel between Qatar and India you can read here.

What innovative techniques has the industry adopted in the wake of the pandemic?
The aviation industry has been taking continuous initiatives to enhance the customer experience by adding contactless touch points for contactless travel. We understand that the needs of the traveller is the pinnacle for us to succeed amidst of this pandemic, and have been taking continuous initiatives to cater to the same. Technology is and always will be at the heart of all changes - adapting enhanced cleaning regimens and technologies such as high-efficiency particulate air filters aboard aircrafts - HEPA filters.

The pandemic has led the world to fast-forward into the future - reinvention is imperative and some new trends are on the rise. Airlines are undergoing digital transformation. More contactless options such as iris and face recognition are set to take its place and health passports could be the future of travel.

Among other initiatives undertaken, we are proud to be the first global carrier to operate Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System on board. In clinical tests, it proves to be capable of disabling various viruses and bacteria. Also, automated UV-C disinfectant robots are in use at Hamad International Airport, to help reduce the spread of pathogens in high passenger flow areas.

Vishwanathan has over 20 years of experience in the field of commercial sales, distribution channels, airline revenue management, and systems

What short term and long-term plans, according to you, will help the sector get back on its feet?
Despite the best efforts of airlines, significant impediments remain slowing the sustainable restart and recovery of the aviation sector. The most common concern raised by our passengers, is the difficulty they are having in understanding entry and exit requirements of different countries. Placing airlines in the precarious position of trying to give certainty to our passengers in a constantly changing regulatory environment. In addition to the constant changes with travel restrictions, we have the lack of uniformity of global standards. The patchwork of regulations we navigate on a daily basis while trying to operate scheduled and non-scheduled services is similar to a bureaucratic minefield.

Governments needs to work with International bodies such as IATA and ICAO to establish and formalise harmonised regulatory guidelines so airlines can operate with certainty and focus on the business of flying rather than navigating red tape.

Recent innovations such as digital ‘health pass’ trials are presenting a strong case for using digital technology to deliver harmonised standards in the validation and verification of accredited passenger health data. We support technical solutions that provide a consistent, scalable and affordable way to declare passenger health data that is simple to implement as part of the customer journey, with processes initiated pre-travel to reduce passenger inconvenience at airports.

What do you think India holds for the aviation sector in the coming year?
I am very hopeful that commercial travel to and from India will resume soon, and the aviation sector will function the same way as before. The pandemic has been a learning experience for all sectors and industries. It has taught us to be resilient and adapt to various circumstances. As we all are aware, the aviation industry is highly adaptable to potential risks, whether it is airspace closure, customer dissatisfaction, or potential security breaches; aviation industry is continuously evolving in a way to manage and mitigate risks and will continue to do so.

Any tips or suggestions for travellers who are planning to fly soon?
While airlines and the airport authorities are taking active initiatives to ensure that health and safety of passengers are not compromised, there are travel restrictions and guidelines put in place that makes the process more seamless. 

Passengers must take self-hygiene protocols as well to mitigate the possible risks. Qatar Airways has increased its health and safety measures on board by introducing new personal protective equipment (PPE) for customers and cabin crew. The airline’s additional robust measures include offering face shields and protective kits to all passengers, in addition to a new protective gown for cabin crew. The disposable face shield is available in two standard sizes – one for adults and the other for children. Customers are also be offered an additional 75ml sanitiser gel tube. During boarding and disembarkation, all passengers must wear face masks or covering as well as the face shield.

Additionally, there are strict travel guidelines for passengers travelling to and from India – some of which are to have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR medical test result when checking in, issued within 96 hours prior to the flight departure, unless it is mandated by the local authority of departure or at the country of arrival to have the test done in a shorter period. These are few of the protocols enlisted, however for more details please visit here.


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