The aviation industry has been the epitome of a pioneering spirit since the first fledgling days at the beginning of the twentieth century. Those first young people, the pioneers – the aviators – building superhighways in an unknown sky, leaving loved ones behind in their snug homes, with nothing more than a hug and promise to return after roaring into the clouds to battle stars and winds.  They landed where there were no lights, no navigation beacons – transforming strange names from tall tales into pictures on postcards home.

Throughout our industry’s history, it’s been the stuff of dreams – flying farther, faster, higher, skimming the edge of space to faraway places, connecting people and businesses like never before. We are the global village.

When Covid-19 spread westwards in those heady days after the bells of 2020 New Year rang out, destroying aviation as the global public health pandemic was declared, border-by-border closing, airline travellers frightened out their wits’ end by press reports, the world was a fragile place and our industry placed into a suspended animation beyond their control.

The airline industry and governmental incompetence and procrastination was unprepared for what would follow – but the pioneering spirit in our collective DNA came to the fore and we’ve all worked together in helping define a “new-normal” which’ll be a baseline standard for moving forward. As before, where carriers tried to differentiate from one another with bells and whistles, an extra benefit here and there, this is now about getting passengers back – feeling safe, believing their travel will not put them at further risk.


According to the  IATA Survey, 86% of the respondents are concerned about traveling on a silver bird, and a layered approach to recreating passenger safety fears and ameliorating concerns is now a preferred approach”

Airlines quickly adjusted schedules as the pandemic evolved. For some airlines, these changes have grounded entire aircraft fleets, and for others, flying may represent only 10 percent of normal activity. Accompanying this decrease was the almost total loss of passenger traffic for all airlines and razor thin margins pushed over the cliff.

An employee at a major airline at Bristol’s airport stated the average load was 9 passengers per flight immediately before lockdown. This drop of inactivity allowed passengers to self-isolate on the nearly empty aircraft. When combined with the rapid exchange of highly filtered air, these flights were likely among the safest public environments available. As an example, travel on crowded London underground trains has been described as a “suicide mission”.  So, honing in on airlines as the infection “carrier” is remarkably unfair.

This situation with airlines and airports will change as the world begins to recover from its pandemic hiatus and traffic increases. Airlines are taking a highly dynamic approach to rolling out initiatives to increase consumer confidence.

The basic measures taken by airlines, either through their own initiatives or by governmental regulations  include:

  • Relaxation of booking restrictions to allow no-fee changes for a limited period of time.
  • Suspension of food and beverage on shorter flights, and a limited selection of packaged items on longer flights.
  • Passengers may change seats on flights to provide more social distancing – in the same travel class category.
  • Rigorous cleaning and disinfecting regimen of all passenger touch surfaces between flights, or overnight.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of passenger touch surfaces in the airport.
  • Emphasis on using HEPA filters for cabin air.
  • Closure of most airline lounges and reduced food services in open lounges.

As airlines anticipate the recovery period, almost all are adding new physical  layers to increase traveller confidence to higher levels, but the one element that’s missing – a seamless,  frictionless digital interconnectivity, bringing passengers, airlines and travel providers together for the whole journey – pre, during and post travel in a unique digital hand holding ecosystem delivering even more assurance right where the traveller wants it – on their personal digital device. This can work alongside in-cabin avionics, independently and can even work using our patented technology in environments where no connectivity exists.

Our ability to deliver omnipresent connectivity ensures passenger trust is restored, enhanced and the commercial touchpoints through contextual e-commerce driving revenue. Personalised information delivery in this “aviation new-normal” will drive passengers back on-board in combination with the physical, safety and hygiene standards deployed by carriers.

Together, FrontM, our partners, airlines, airports can be the 21st century pioneers, echoing those intrepid aviators of over a century ago – helping connect people in our global village with layers of safety in a way that’s not intrusive – but always there.

Ian Carruthers

Author Ian Carruthers

More posts by Ian Carruthers

Leave a Reply