As we prepare to enthusiastically turn our backs on this – 2020 annus horibillis (Lat. horrible year), allow me to reflect on a year like no other in our living memory. The coronavirus pandemic has swept the world and changed our way of life; it has had a profound impact on each and every one of us in the global aviation and travel industry and brought with it hardship that will be difficult to forget. Within just a few weeks, an invisible yet potent enemy grounded mighty fleets across the globe, shuttered borders and ended years of progress, network development and connectivity building. Demand for air travel collapsed, taking with it millions of jobs worldwide and wiping out profits and revenues in an unseen fashion before.
Yet despite this, and like so many times in the past, the aviation industry is adapting and finding a way forward in these uncertain and evolving times. In the short-term, both airlines and airports face an increase in operating costs as a result of additional health and safety measures now being required. International travel restrictions, the contraction of economic activity and changes in transport behaviour by cautious consumers may prevent a return to pre-crisis demand levels in the near future, forcing carriers to adjust to the “new normal” and look for new markets through air travel bubbles; a greater focus on domestic demand and new sources of revenue such as niche air cargo development by passenger carriers.
Being an active player in this sector, Avtra too received significant commercial blows this year, as we shared the brunt of our client’s misfortunes by lowering or freezing charges and fees while continuing to endure expenditure of our outstanding technological advancements and human capital growth, both of which continued unabated. We are incredibly proud of this fact actually; not only did we not stop investing in our solutions, we actually channelled greater funds to our product development in order to reaffirm our market position and offer the very best that is expected from an industry-leading suite of airline products such as Avtra. My team and I also took bold steps that saw us expand our physical presence worldwide in a post-Covid era, launched our innovative and exciting “Airline-in-a-box” offering and ultimately managed to win new clients and accounts globally – the biggest client actually we ever had! We also saw an emerging trend where airlines, airports and other industry stakeholders used this downtime to seek ways to streamline their business and embrace new technologies in order to plan for a more sustainable and cost-beneficial future after this is over. This resulted in us delivering more product demonstrations than ever before – to carriers big and small, who turn to us and away from costly legacy systems in a bid to control costs while attaining the latest airline IT innovations.
As we move forward towards 2021 and the start of a global roll-out of an effective coronavirus vaccine, the aviation industry will play a crucial role in its shipment across the world at a life-saving speed that would not be possible by any other means. The recovery of domestic air travel demand in China to almost pre-Covid levels in the final quarter of the year gives hope to the rest of the industry of a similar scenario in the coming twelve months. The advancement of science and technology, as well as the breakneck speed at which a vaccine against the virus has been developed provide us with cautious optimism that this global health emergency will come to an end sooner rather than later, enabling the industry to begin its much-needed recovery. Aviation has been through many upheavals over the past century, and though this may be its most challenging yet, it has always come out more resilient on the other side and continued to evolve. Here again, we at Avtra plan to work very closely with our industry partners to help in this grandiose recovery and we will spare no effort to offer airlines big and small, from LCCs to full-service carriers – a product they want, need and deserve in the 21st century.
Finally, and although the holidays can seem especially grim this year with all that is happening and the toll it has left over the past twelve months or so, Avtra would like to extend its best wishes to all of you and your families; our customers, partners and friends across the globe with genuine hope that you will be able to find moments of peace amid the difficulties. We wish and hope that the New Year brings each and every one of us good health, happiness and good fortune – with many happy take-offs and landings to follow.