sociation (NAA) and the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) for the first in a series of webinars that bring together aviation and aerospace influencers to gain insight on the future of the industry. The number of attendees was double what was anticipated and the content more impactful and meaningful than could have been predicted.
The webinar featured four industry leaders from the most vital aviation sectors; general, business and commercial air travel. Host Amy Spowart, President and CEO of the NAHF, and moderator Greg Principato, President and CEO of the NAA, led the panel through a series of questions that highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all areas of aviation and what the future looks like for the industry.
According to Greg Principato, “The goal was to present a picture of where we are currently and to outline steps that need to be taken to increase public confidence and encourage the return of travelers.” At the conclusion of the webinar, Principato shared, “Aviation will return and meaningful interactions such as business transactions and family vacations will take place because aviation is willing to make the changes necessary to gain public confidence.”
Geoff Murray, Partner, Oliver Wyman, began the webinar with the perspective of Oliver Wyman’s own internal polling. “Our research was conducted to help airlines and manufactures quickly and thoughtfully get back into business. What we found is that currently, policy is playing a highly influential role in respect to the return of travel. People are seeking the guidance of the government.” He later added, “Once the people start to travel, commercial airlines will increase routes, airports will re-expand their facilities and recovery will be slowly underway.
According to Dale Klapmeier, co-founder Cirrus Aircraft, “General aviation and business aviation has suffered less because the people who are used to it continue to do it and people who may have not considered it before now want to be in their own aircraft; There are no concerns over cleanliness or infection. The only thing that keeps them from flying right now is that there is no place to go. I think as soon they have a personal reason like a vacation, or, a business meeting then general aviation will lead the way.”
The overriding sentiment among panelists was that commercial flying will come back once the flying population feels confident that they are protected and that the areas they are travelling to are safe and welcoming. The expert group was also adamant that airports and airlines would work together and protect the public at all stages of their travels.
Candace McGraw, CEO Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport said, “In the short term, trust at airports will be earned as travelers see our staff in masks, plexiglass in place and consistent cleaning standards. They will also encounter fewer contact points. In the long term, passengers will be furthered assured as technology develops.” She later added, “We will do all we can to build confidence going forward.”
“Safety is our number one priority at United Airlines,” said Michael Quiello, V.P., Corporate Safety, United Airlines. “United has introduced several meaningful changes and innovations including partnering with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to help us deliver on our commitment to ensure the safest possible journey from lobby to landing.”
Post-event survey indicated that the overwhelming take away of the webinar is that all the places the public encounters must be visibly clean and professionally staffed to build confidence. “Our panelists were very clear that flying will resume when travelers can see and feel they are safe," Amy Spowart shared. “The panelists also agreed that industry will do all they can, but the public has to be responsible too and not fly if they are unwell.”
The webinar is available in its entirety at the NAA and NAHF websites.