After two long years of turbulence, the “fasten seatbelts” sign is still on in the aviation industry. These have been the most volatile period in the history of commercial aviation. But we see reason for optimism as major players innovate, positive indicators increase, and safety measures keep passengers safe. Read on to see our five predictions for 2022 in our resilient industry.
Deliveries and orders last year make 2022 look promising. For example, Airbus received 507 orders in 2021. The A320, which makes up the lion’s share, takes roughly eight months to complete, so they’re on target to deliver a lot of planes this year.
Boeing logged over 500 net orders last year and deliveries surged, led by the return of 737 Max. Many new 737 Max 8 planes that were in storage are now taking flight with Singapore Airlines; they’ve got impressive cabin upgrades (more on that below).
The same situation is happening at flydubai, an Emirates partner that is all-737.
But for those of you hoping to see Boeing's massive stretched 777X, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Its original delivery date has been pushed at least to 2023, possibly 2024.
Airlines were flying into recovery prior to the omicron variant’s surge in late 2021. Continued uncertainty has dampened predictions, but recovery is still happening. One solid projection sees global air travel demand recovering to 84 percent of 2019 levels.
In mid-January, Delta Air Lines was upbeat in its assessment of the year’s possibilities. They believe that despite the temporary sluggishness of its recovery in the face of the omicron variant, pent-up travel demand will bring strong ticket sales in the spring of 2022 and into the rest of the year. We have high hopes!
With so many aircraft in production this year and lots of older planes being retired, passengers are more likely to enjoy modern amenities. Those include improved entertainment tech, updated seats, at-seat power, faster Wi-Fi, and maybe even a little more legroom.
At the Dubai Airshow last year, Emirates delighted passengers by announcing the retrofit 105 of its modern wide-body aircraft with a premium economy product toward the end of 2022.
They’re not the only ones offering cabin enhancements. Singapore Airlines unveiled its new cabin offerings for its 737 Max 8 aircraft. These include more ergonomic and comfortable seats for business and economy classes, and improved seat-back inflight entertainment, in-flight Wi-Fi service, and mobile data connectivity services.
In existing planes, many carriers are headed to economy with technology upgrades. Think fast-charging USB-C sockets and app-integrated inflight entertainment systems with Bluetooth connectivity. We’ll take it!
When one positive COVID-19 test can halt travel plans immediately, rigid cancellation policies just aren’t going to fly in 2022. We predict greater flexibility to meet changing customer needs.
Sure, most airlines don’t have change fees, but vouchers and flight credits are confusing. Plus, they might expire before folks feel ready to travel again.
Compounding the complications are more-frequent schedule changes as airline route planners shift flights at a rapid pace. The good news here is that increased business travel will help this stabilize, but for early 2022, it’s moving fast.
One possible area of change might be frequent flyer programs. They have traditionally relied only on business types racking up the miles. That crowd is still largely grounded. We can see a smart business decision ready to be made by embracing the less-frequent traveler. We think this nimble move will earn rounds of applause from passengers – and their repeat business.
As virus variants emerged last year, airline carriers strongly enforced mask mandates across the industry. This year is shaping up to be more of the same.
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to block a federal mask mandate for air travel. Also, the federal transportation mask mandate in the U.S. is extended through March 18, 2022. We predict that there will be more extensions and we will remain masked up for all of 2022.
The bottom line for us is great optimism for the prospects in our industry. These 5 predictions for the aviation industry in 2022 are just the beginning of it all.