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When FFs Dream - What Could AC Travel Look Like Post-Pandemic?

When FFs Dream - What Could AC Travel Look Like Post-Pandemic?

Old Mar 30, 20, 7:31 am
  #1  
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When FFs Dream - What Could AC Travel Look Like Post-Pandemic?

Had an interesting discussion with partner over breakfast about whether the current pandemic will lead to any lasting post-event changes in air travel. For instance, will new regulations force AC to begin to actually clean its notoriously filthy planes between flights? Will high-density seat plans become poo-poo? Will airlines offer expanded E+ seating options for greater separation from other pax? Will we see the big birds replaced altogether by long-range single-aisle planes moving fewer bodies at a time, and perhaps with more freight to mitigate the revenue loss? So many ideas ... and perhaps nothing will change at all.

Thoughts?
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Last edited by Symmetre; Mar 30, 20 at 12:53 pm Reason: fixed a spelling error
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Old Mar 30, 20, 9:41 am
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Interesting questions. A few thoughts:
  • Given AC's attitude generally, my prediction is that they will not do any of the above willingly.
  • All of the suggested measures come with significant cost to the consumer, who have proven to be highly price-sensitive.
  • Once all restrictions are off I think things will return to normal, but it will take up to a year for load factors to approach what they were last year.
  • Or will they? People are being forced to learn how to use online meeting technology and maybe it will improve and take hold, reducing the need for business travel.
  • How many and which airlines will survive? Will AC's dominant hold on the Canadian market become more dominant?
I think a bigger question in the short term is going to be financial solvency, cash flow and their ability to actually provide the refunds they're obligated to do.
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Old Mar 30, 20, 10:24 am
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I work in coal mines. Safety is Job One, absolutely.

My last flights were on March 24th. I am working my way through cancelling future bookings (if I can get through to the AC/AE agents at all: two hours is my personal limit of patience).

My guess is that we shall see in-flight food and beverage service vanishing altogether, because that presents an opportunity to reduce costs as well as reduce safety risks to cabin crew. Not having to run the trollies limits cabin crew exposure to asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Expect to see the cabin crew only during safety briefings, and further expect the lavs to be reserved for crew use (again on understandable safety grounds).

Personally, the contraction of the outstation feeder network has wiped-out my practical ability to reach isolated industrial sites in northern Canada. I would not be surprised if my employer were to reinstate charter shuttles from the west coast to the north, so as to maintain the fly-in, fly-out schedule of essential technical and managerial staff, given that Grande Prairie and Comox are now closed.

Guessing also that, if the MLL is to survive at all, access will come at a substantial extra cost. Personal reckoning of the value proposition will govern whether we take AC up on that offer.

- - - - -

My personal situation is unusual, because I am at retirement age, and so have strong fiscal and safety incentives to retire. Younger people may well see these matters differently.

Be well, and good luck to all,

Elane (formerly in seat 1D)
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Old Mar 30, 20, 4:07 pm
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I dream that AC MLL will have food on request. At all hours of their operation

In a perfect world, ​​​​​​from a little window like ANA. Fresher, somewhat more sanitary than the old buffet/stampede style. Or AC could model after the little vending machine from the ramen shops in Japan: put your voucher or scan an AC QR code, pick a random illegible button, and out come your pickles.

I also dream that Skytrax will go bankrupt and the new rating agency will rate cleaning and sanitizing efforts of each airline. CBC could just buy reporters tickets and arm them with black lights.

Last edited by expert7700; Mar 30, 20 at 4:13 pm
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Old Mar 30, 20, 4:40 pm
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I think travel will take a long time to recover - especially the cruise ship industry (and cruisers taking flights to and from the cruise) - I predict lots of down gauging and more narrow bodies across oceans.
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Old Mar 30, 20, 4:56 pm
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post-virus air travel

I think many companies will find that virtual meetings between far-flung offices work quite well, raising a huge question mark about the need for future business travel. The technology for videoconferencing is now very impressive and replacing travel with virtual meetings has many benefits: it saves money and time and reduces stress on those who have to travel. This poses a threat to business class travel revenues
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Old Mar 30, 20, 6:24 pm
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A request to please keep this as AC/AP-focused as possible rather than on wider travel industry trends.

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Old Mar 30, 20, 6:53 pm
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Once COVID is a distant memory, AC will likely go back to something close to what they offer today. I don't see them moving away from steerage seating for those who want the best price. I think we may see expanded PE cabins on widebodies as more people vie for some extra space.

I do think that corporate travel will remain subdued for a while as people get more comfortable with conferencing options and risk departments discourage non-essential travel fro ma safety and cost-cutting perspective. This will depress loads and yield. A healthy fear of setting foot on cruise ships will likely linger for at least a few years, negatively impacting some Rouge routes like FLL, BCN and VCE.
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Old Mar 30, 20, 11:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Symmetre View Post
Had an interesting discussion with partner over breakfast about whether the current pandemic will lead to any lasting post-event changes in air travel. For instance, will new regulations force AC to begin to actually clean its notoriously filthy planes between flights? Will high-density seat plans become poo-poo? Will airlines offer expanded E+ seating options for greater separation from other pax? Will we see the big birds replaced altogether by long-range single-aisle planes moving fewer bodies at a time, and perhaps with more freight to mitigate the revenue loss? So many ideas ... and perhaps nothing will change at all.
I think most of your speculation revolves around the concept of people catching the disease on planes. As far as I can tell from what I've read, there don't appear to have been many cases of transmission during flights. The travel-related cases seem to stem mainly from people having been on the ground in virus hotspots (people who've been to Hubei, northern Italy, etc), or having been in contact with those people during their day-to-day lives (e.g. spouses/family members etc).

So I don't expect AC to ditch the HD 777s, or put in a bunch more rows of preferred seats, or anything like that, as a result of this.

I could see AC wanting to drum up some business and offering nice incentives to fly as a result, but I doubt it will have the fundamental impact on the business model that you're thinking of.

Originally Posted by The Lev View Post
I do think that corporate travel will remain subdued for a while as people get more comfortable with conferencing options and risk departments discourage non-essential travel fro ma safety and cost-cutting perspective.
The bean-counters have always loved hitting travel, but the anti-bean-counters will probably be able to point to massive falls in revenue that went alongside the massive drop in travel this time. Correlation may not be causation, but it certainly won't hurt the case of those who like to push back on the bean-counters

I think we're also discovering the limitations of video conferencing. It's a lot better than it used to be, but still nowhere near the same as sitting down with someone face to face.

A healthy fear of setting foot on cruise ships will likely linger for at least a few years, negatively impacting some Rouge routes like FLL, BCN and VCE.
There's certainly some cruise traffic out of VCE, but is it really meaningful to AC's loads? FLL, sure, no one wants to go to FLL, but my assumption has always been that a lot of the people on the VCE flights were there because they wanted to be in VCE. BCN too, albeit somewhere in between the two.

I would be more worried about the general campaign by VCE to restrict the number of tourists visiting the city.
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Old Mar 31, 20, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by expert7700 View Post
I also dream that Skytrax will go bankrupt and the new rating agency will rate cleaning and sanitizing efforts of each airline. CBC could just buy reporters tickets and arm them with black lights.
LOL ... if Skytrax were to fold then where would AC buy their "very bestest airline in the whole wide world" accolades? If Skytrax ever got into real trouble I could see Calin buying them and calling it a marketing initiative. Not kidding!

Originally Posted by canfly15 View Post
I think many companies will find that virtual meetings between far-flung offices work quite well, raising a huge question mark about the need for future business travel. The technology for videoconferencing is now very impressive and replacing travel with virtual meetings has many benefits: it saves money and time and reduces stress on those who have to travel. This poses a threat to business class travel revenues
Originally Posted by The Lev View Post
I do think that corporate travel will remain subdued for a while as people get more comfortable with conferencing options and risk departments discourage non-essential travel fro ma safety and cost-cutting perspective. This will depress loads and yield.
I agree that virtual meetings probably will permanently replace some volume of business travel - if not now, then soon enough. Conferences, trade shows and large scale meetings will continue, no doubt, but I can see smaller scale trips being easily replaced with Zoom meetings. The technology works very well, bean counters love the bottom line impact and I think anyone except die-hard road warriors might appreciate not having to spend quite as many nights away from home.

Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
I think most of your speculation revolves around the concept of people catching the disease on planes. As far as I can tell from what I've read, there don't appear to have been many cases of transmission during flights. The travel-related cases seem to stem mainly from people having been on the ground in virus hotspots (people who've been to Hubei, northern Italy, etc), or having been in contact with those people during their day-to-day lives (e.g. spouses/family members etc).

So I don't expect AC to ditch the HD 777s, or put in a bunch more rows of preferred seats, or anything like that, as a result of this.
I didn't mean to imply people are getting sick on flights, because I don't believe that to be the case at all. It's more just the ideal of crowds being associated with increased risk of catching something. After all, that's the basic message behind the call for social distancing. My question is, I wonder if that will stick in people's minds?


Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
I think we're also discovering the limitations of video conferencing. It's a lot better than it used to be, but still nowhere near the same as sitting down with someone face to face.
Agree video conferencing has limitations, which is why I noted above that I feel it probably will impact some business travel - but not all. Depending on the nature of their work, my guess is that some business travelers with lower to mid-level status could find they have a harder time maintaining mileage and spend thresholds.
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Old Mar 31, 20, 11:37 am
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Selling only 50% of plane seats seems a reasonable way to ensure physical distancing in a very enclosed space. But airlines won't do this voluntarily. So I would anticipate we could see HD+ configs on many AC planes so that when they sell only 50% of the seats, they're still selling a large number of seats per segment. It could even mean a return of 2-2-2 config on international J so that they can stagger pax in 1A, 1D and 1G then in 2C, 2F etc.

Last edited by tcook052; Mar 31, 20 at 1:17 pm Reason: off topic
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Old Mar 31, 20, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by RCyyz View Post
Selling only 50% of plane seats seems a reasonable way to ensure physical distancing in a very enclosed space. But airlines won't do this voluntarily. So I would anticipate we could see HD+ configs on many AC planes so that when they sell only 50% of the seats, they're still selling a large number of seats per segment. It could even mean a return of 2-2-2 config on international J so that they can stagger pax in 1A, 1D and 1G then in 2C, 2F etc.
This would very quickly lead to a situation where they can't fill the seats at a price such that any flights are profitable.
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Old Mar 31, 20, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
I think most of your speculation revolves around the concept of people catching the disease on planes. As far as I can tell from what I've read, there don't appear to have been many cases of transmission during flights. The travel-related cases seem to stem mainly from people having been on the ground in virus hotspots (people who've been to Hubei, northern Italy, etc), or having been in contact with those people during their day-to-day lives (e.g. spouses/family members etc).

So I don't expect AC to ditch the HD 777s, or put in a bunch more rows of preferred seats, or anything like that, as a result of this.

I could see AC wanting to drum up some business and offering nice incentives to fly as a result, but I doubt it will have the fundamental impact on the business model that you're thinking of.
I think the decrease in passengers is going to be more based on people staying closer to home for vacations etc. Those are likely also the passengers traveling at a discount. The bigger hit will likely be from business travelers who may end up using video conferencing a bit more than before.

When AC first purchased the 777 it was 9 across and they were making money. They will struggle to fill all the seats. Will they reconfigure the aircraft? Probably not, they will just fly at a lower capacity factor. Cargo will become a more important factor.

I think we are also going to see AC and WS start to interline. There are some smaller airports that are not going to be viable with just one of the two airlines but become viable is you can connect the dots using both networks.
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Old Mar 31, 20, 11:47 am
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It will be very expensive to fly as there will be a huge pent up demand to travel. Expect full planes and business back to usual. Maybe a cleaner plane until this all becomes a distant memory.
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Old Mar 31, 20, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by FreedomIsntFree View Post
It will be very expensive to fly as there will be a huge pent up demand to travel. Expect full planes and business back to usual. Maybe a cleaner plane until this all becomes a distant memory.
I disagree. People are going to be much more frugal, especially after the beginning. Maybe a bump when people try to use their credits but I cannot imagine 2019 levels to return anytime soon.
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