Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
As global aviation prepares for a post-Covid rebound, a new report from aviation insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) highlights some of the unique challenges airlines and airports face in restarting operations, ranging from "rusty" pilots to insect infestations.
The report also identifies several ways in which Covid-19 is reshaping the sector, driving long-term changes in fleet composition, flight routes and passenger demand.
"The grounding of worldwide fleets during the pandemic was an unprecedented event for the aviation industry," Dave Warfel, a Regional Head of Aviation at AGCS, told IANS over e-mail.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
"Airlines have worked tirelessly to maintain their fleets and train their crews during this long period of inactivity and, as insurers, we take a keen interest in working with them to understand their plans to return to service.
"Challenges will no doubt emerge as the industry readies for takeoff again. Although it is hard to predict in exactly what shape the aviation industry will return, one thing is for certain – it will have changed," Warfel said.
In the Asia Pacific, airlines have fared the worst in the world according to the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) data released in June.
The region experienced the steepest traffic decline for the ninth consecutive month, with capacity down 86.3 per cent.
Singapore Airlines is facing its second consecutive annual loss amounting to a net loss of 4.3 billion as of March 2021, largely because unlikely other countries it does not have domestic travel.
Meanwhile, AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Malaysian Air Asia Group and Thai Airways are in bankruptcy courts to negotiate time to restructure their debts.
The AGCS reports flag the following challenges facing global aviation:
"Rusty" pilots and the return of sightseeing flights
Earlier this year, dozens of pilots reported making mistakes, such as taking multiple attempts to land, to NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, with much citing rustiness as a factor on returning to the skies.
In September 2020, an Indonesian flight veered off the runway during landing as the pilots had did not have the opportunity to fly an aircraft in months. Airlines (and other operators) are well aware of the potential for pilot "rustiness" and continue to take steps to manage and mitigate these risks.
Major airlines have developed different training programs for pilots re-entering service, depending on the length of absence.
"At a time of such unprecedented activity, it is comforting to know that the risk management processes that made airline travel safer than any form of travel before the pandemic will continue to drive an unparalleled travel safety environment in the post-Covid-19 world," says Warfel.
However, the return of sightseeing flights in tourism destinations could lead to an uptick in risk for smaller leisure aircraft, including helicopters, particularly if there is an influx of new pilots unfamiliar with the routes and terrain. There have already been several fatal accidents involving sightseeing flights in recent years
"Air rage" incidents on the rise
The unruly behaviour of aeroplane passengers is increasingly a concern, particularly in the US. In a typical year, there are around 150 reports of passenger disruption on aircraft.
By June, there had been 3,000 according to the Federal Aviation Administration – the majority involving passengers refusing to wear a mask. The report notes that unruly passengers may later claim they were discriminated against by the airline in these cases even when in the wrong – trend insurers need to stay on top of.
This trend, however, was not a concern in Asia as countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have imposed a blanket requirement for everyone to wear masks as long as they are in public and not only for air travel.
Perils from parked fleets
Although a large proportion of the world's airline fleet have been, and are still, parked during Covid-19, loss exposures do not disappear. They change. Parked fleets are exposed to weather events.
In Asia, the challenge lies in aircraft being exposed to extreme weather events particularly in countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines that are prone to strong storms. The risk lies in moving groups of aircraft without causing damage.
The risk of shunting or ground incidents also increases, which can bring costly claims. There were several collisions at the start of the pandemic as operators transferred aircraft to storage facilities. More are likely when aircraft are moved again ahead of reuse.
Aircraft in storage typically undergo regular maintenance to ensure they are ready to return. However, never has the industry seen so many aircraft temporarily put out of service and the report notes that smaller airlines may face significant challenges when reactivating fleets, given it will be an unprecedented process.
Pilot shortage brings risks
Odd as it may seem given the impact of Covid-19, the global aviation industry faces a pilot shortage in the mid to long term. The tremendous increase in air travel pre-pandemic, annual air passenger growth in China alone was 10 per cent plus a year from 2011, meant pilot demand was already outstripping supply.
More than a quarter of a million are required over the coming decade. Moreover, the pandemic has forced many airline companies to lay off pilots as seen in Cathay Pacific cutting 600 pilots to ease its financial burden.
"In less regulated countries, shortages can lead to pilots operating commercial aircraft with limited qualifications and low overall flying time," says Warfel.
"Pilot fatigue is also a known risk among existing pilots that must be properly managed. Fortunately, there is a lot of industry expertise and resources available to assist airlines in building proper fatigue management systems."
Some airlines are building their pilot pipelines by establishing flight schools. Given the nature of training, flying schools are prone to accidents and claims are becoming more expensive with rising values of aircraft and increased activity. Landing accidents are most common, but insurers have also seen total losses.
New generation aircraft bring safety improvements but higher costs
Several airlines have shrunk their fleets or retired aircraft over the past year, as the pandemic hastens a generational shift to smaller aircraft, given the anticipated reduced number of passengers on aircraft in the short-term future.
"Newer generation aircraft bring safety and efficiency benefits," says Axel von Frowein, a Regional Head of Aviation at AGCS.
"However, new materials such as composites, titanium and alloys are more expensive to repair, resulting in higher claims costs."
Robust performance by air cargo and trend will continue
Although passenger travel has been devastated by the pandemic, other aviation sectors have performed more robustly, such as cargo operators.
In April, Asia Pacific reported its best month for international air cargo since the pandemic began, thanks to rising business confidence, e-commerce and congestion at seaports, while Latin America to North America freighter capacity grew by almost a third in May compared to the same two week period in 2019. The report expects air cargo to continue to perform strongly.
A Singaporean low-cost airline, Scoot has re-configured their regular passenger cabins to allow aircraft to carry extra cargo, while Singapore Airlines continues to capture more vaccination shipments as production ramps up and the demand for exports increases.
Business travel – boom or bust?
Pre-Covid-19 business travel traffic amounted to $1.5 trillion a year or around 1.7 per cent of global GDP. With many airlines dialling back expectations in the short term, the report asks whether those days are over.
New ways of collaboration, such as video calls, proved to be effective and more companies are aiming to reduce business travel to improve their carbon footprint. Therefore, while there will be an initial surge once lockdowns end, many airlines are preparing for a long-term paradigm shift in travelling, with business travel expected to be slow to pick up.
However, what speaks for a possible uptick is that some areas of business aviation have proven resilient during the pandemic. Companies that had aircraft continued to use them while many that had never purchased or chartered an aircraft before did so for the first time. Many charter companies thrived.
w routes grow in Europe, Asia- Pacific
Over 1,400 new air routes are scheduled for 2021, more than double those added in 2016, driven by Europe (over 600) and the Asia Pacific (over 500), with regional airports set to be the main beneficiaries. Growth in China's domestic market alone has seen over 200 new routes added, almost the same as the US.
China has one of the largest domestic tourism markets in the world. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism estimated there will be more than four billion trips made across China in 2021, a market worth just over USD 500 billion. The demand for domestic alternatives, possibly exceeding pre-pandemic levels is not surprising, especially as China is home to 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
"This development reflects the desire of some airlines to experiment in uncertain times, particularly smaller ones," says von Frowein.
"New routes means less congested airspace and congestion at airports which can have a positive impact on risks such as ground handling incidents. However, flying new routes can bring a heightened risk environment."
Insect infestations affect instrument accuracy
There have been several reports of unreliable airspeed and altitude readings during the first flight(s) after some aircraft have left storage. In many cases, the problem was traced back to undetected insect nests inside the aircraft's pitot tubes, pressure-sensitive sensors that feed data to an avionics computer. Such incidents have led to rejected takeoffs and turnback events. Contamination risk increases if storage procedures are not followed.
Covid-19 claims impact
The AGCS report also notes the aviation industry has seen relatively few claims directly related to the pandemic to date. In a small number of liability notifications, passengers have sued airlines for cancellations/disruptions.
"Covid-19 has not been a direct driver of aviation claims over the past year," says Cristina Schoen, Global Head of Aviation Claims at AGCS.
ALSO READ Tips for safe air travel amid a pandemic
"As a result of the significant reduction in commercial airline travel during the pandemic, we saw fewer attritional claims than we would during a typical year.
"However, the insurance sector was not immune to larger losses during the pandemic, with different regions seeing tragic accidents, emergency landings and hull losses to name a few. As air travel begins to return to pre-pandemic levels we expect claims volume to rise accordingly."
AGCS analysis of more than 46,000 aviation insurance claims from 2016 to year-end 2020 worth more than 14.5 billion euros ($17.3 billion) shows collision/crash incidents account for over half the value of all claims. Other expensive causes of loss include faulty workmanship/maintenance and machinery breakdown. (IANS/AD)
Final preparations are in full swing at Six Senses Fort Barwara which will host the much talked about wedding of celebrity couple Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif.
According to sources, the event company working for this wedding has procured crystal balls and chandeliers from abroad to give a royal look to the wedding. These will be installed in the hotel soon.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
Six Senses Hotel has also parked indicator vehicles on the road at frequent intervals for the guests to reach the hotel easily. A glass 'mandap' has been prepared and decorated in Rajwada style for the couple to take 'pheres' (rounds around the fire) as per Hindu rituals. Moreover, the glass carvings on the mandap is such that it creates an optical illusion.
This wedding ceremony will be held amidst tight security arrangements. Secret codes have been given to each of the guests, so that it is impossible to know which guest is staying in which room.
Mobile phones have been banned inside the venue. International photographers have been hired to shoot the entire wedding. The ceremonies will be held from December 7 to December 9, with bouncers and police personnel looking after the security arrangements. As many as 100 bouncers have arrived from Jaipur to look after security arrangements at the wedding.
Katrina and Vicky's wedding is to be solemnized on December 9.Unsplash
Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif's outfits have been designed in Mumbai which they will wear during different wedding ceremonies.
As per information, Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal are scheduled to reach Hotel Six Senses Fort Barwara located at Chauth Ka Barwara, by 9 p.m. on Monday, via car from Jaipur where both are expected to receive a grand welcome by the hotel management.
Along with Vicky and Katrina, their family members too will reach the hotel on Monday. However, some close family members and other guests will reach the venue separately. Katrina's sister Natasha and friends reached Jaipur airport on Monday afternoon from where they left for the wedding venue by car.
Katrina and Vicky's wedding is to be solemnized on December 9. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : wedding, Bollywood, Vicky Kaushal, Katrina Kaif, Rajasthan, hotel, Fort Barwara, ceremony, photographer, bouncer, outfit)
- List Of Bollywood Actors Who Returned To The Limelight ... ›
- Emerging Trends in Bollywood: Superhero Movies - NewsGram ... ›
Meta-owned WhatsApp on Monday announced an incubator programme in India that will select 10 organisations and help them build digital solutions to tackle critical health issues.
Called the WhatsApp Incubator Programme (WIP), the initiative aims to facilitate positive and measurable health outcomes at scale by leveraging the WhatsApp Business Platform.
Follow NewsGram on LinkedIn to know what's happening around the world.
"During the pandemic we have seen several innovative use cases of the WhatsApp Business Platform by government organisations, civic actors, city administrations and many more NGOs, both large and small, across sectors and locations," said Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp India.
The selected organisations will also be provided with technical support in order to design, prototype and pilot their health use cases.Unsplash
Also Read : The story behind Whatsapp
"We hope the WhatsApp Incubator Programme brings forth more such innovative and unique solutions that will help solve India's healthcare needs," he said in a statement.
The selected organizations will also be provided with technical support in order to design, prototype and pilot their health use cases.
The company said that participating organizations get the opportunity to be mentored by industry experts, access on-ground ecosystems, receive support with impact measurement guidance, and a chance to network with funders to scale their use cases.
The programme, for which applications are open till December 24, is being administered by Quicksand Design Studio, WhatsApp said. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Whatsapp, incubator, organizations, digital, health, business, pandemic, innovative, technical)
- WhatsApp Tests a Feature that allows Working on Multiple Devices ... ›
- WhatsApp: Users Can Directly Report Bugs And Issues In The App ... ›
By D.C. Pathak
Advent of Biden Presidency with its resonating calls of 'America is back', 'we will repair our alliances' and 'will engage with the world once again' on one hand and the rise of President Xi Jinping with a stronger hold on China after the Plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of CPC, on the other, have got strategic analysts to examine if a new Cold War was already on the horizon.
India has to define its stand and negotiate its international policy keeping in view the nation's best interests of the long run. Sino- Pak military alliance that chiefly worked against India, natural friendship between the two largest democracies of the world and the need for a rapid advancement of our Defence capabilities, are the major paradigms that should determine India's approach to both development and security.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.
Xi Jinping is implementing a two- fold strategy of seeking the economic route to becoming the second superpower and pursuing 'Sinicisation of Marxism' to define the future of Communist China. In a huge give and take between the Godless dictatorship of China and the fundamentalist regime of Pakistan, the former has invested on CPEC located on the territory of PoK ceded by Pakistan to China in the face of the Indian protests and got an opening into the Muslim world where sympathy for Islamic radicals has been on the rise.
Pakistan is close to the pro- US group led by Saudi Arabia and yet has a good equation with Islamic radical organizations represented by Taliban. With one leg in the camp of 'revivalists' -- Pakistan -- it mediated between the US and the Taliban on Afghanistan -- would be in a position to assure the Chinese that the Cold War game of the West using Pak-Afghan region to 'radicalise' Muslims of Xinjiang and other parts of China, would not be allowed. The axis of the two principal adversaries of India has become very active after the Indian Parliament scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution in August 2019 and converted J&K and Ladakh into union territories. India had successfully evolved a strategy of dealing with both China and Pakistan together.
Also Read : Why are India and China overpopulated?
It needs to be recalled that China drew the best lessons from the demise of the USSR -- it could clearly see that the Soviet regime had become an oligarchy that ignored the internal economic decline because of which it was not able to sustain the war in Afghanistan. This led Deng Xiaoping to adopt the policy of opening the Chinese market to the world in a controlled fashion and thus initiate a process of faster economic growth on which China has not looked back. China has become the second biggest global economy by investing in markets abroad and accessing technological knowledge wherever it was available -- including the research work of the US universities where it established 'Chairs' to reach out to the same.
Xi Jinping combines the persona of Deng and Mao Zedong and while consolidating Chinese economy further, he has reverted to the concept of supremacy of the Communist Party of China as the symbol of Marxism. This has helped him, among other things, to keep his leadership going on the strength of ideology and project it as something that was free of any personal vested interest. The recent conference of the Central Committee of CPC credited Xi Jinping with achievement of the first Centennial goal of making China a 'moderately prosperous society' by 2021 -- the hundredth year of the party's existence and acknowledged his pledge to make China a 'great modern Socialist country' by 2049 -- the second centennial mission marking the completion of hundred years since Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China. By highlighting the importance of 'ideology' and 'line', Xi Jinping has identified himself with the Party so completely that his leadership can not be easily challenged by any dissenters.
Under Xi Jinping, China is progressing economically and also politically extending its influence in the world taking care to buy time for its mission and somewhere following the doctrine of winning a war without a battle. It is joining multilateral platforms to create a non- combatant image, inducing economic dependence of other smaller nations on it through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and forging bilateral alliances and pacts to further its geo- political advancement.
Pakistan is close to the pro- US group led by Saudi Arabia and yet has a good equation with Islamic radical organizations represented by Taliban.Unsplash
Sino- Pak strategic alliance -- an illustration of this multi-prong objective of China -- is a cause for great concern for India. China knows it can not change the Western systems and is not in a hurry to challenge the global economic order -- it is exploring alternate approaches of invading others economically and doing it successfully. As far as territorial expansion was concerned Xi's China adheres to its known 'two steps forward one step backward' strategy -- which is salami slicing of sorts -- that was in evidence on LAC as also in the Indo-Pacific. India has suitably responded to these moves on land as well as on sea by undertaking a matching military build up and actively joining in Quad, respectively.
Some analysts have perceptively noted that President Xi Jinping has embarked on a larger than life mission of surpassing Mao Zedong in building China as the dominant power of the world -- matching the place it once occupied in its civilizational history. His new strategy of bringing all 'under one heaven' compels a recall of the description the Chinese Emperor once enjoyed as the 'son of heaven'. It is remarkable that a Communist dictatorship carrying the stamp of Marxism today is deriving strength from the country's civilisational roots. This reflects the desire for world domination -- the Emperor of China expected 'tribute' from other countries as protection money.
Xi's China is also working on fail -- safe alliances -- using its economic hold as in the case of Pakistan. The defence expenditure of China has been on the rise -- in comparison to India it rose from a near parity in the Nineties to more than three times of India's defence budget, as at present. China's move forward is neither transactional nor transformational but a strategy of continuum -- steady in pace and direction --attempted on a good understanding of the global 'space' on land ,sea and air. Geo- politically China is now in the frame so far as the emerging scene of the world getting divided between two superpowers, was concerned.
The defence expenditure of China has been on the rise -- in comparison to India.Unsplash
India has set in motion a well- considered strategy of handling the economic and security challenges emanating from this situation. There was never any doubt that the US and India must together anchor the collective effort of the democratic world to counter the threat from the Communist dictatorships on one hand and that from Islamic extremists on the other.
The policy of the Modi government to have bilateral relations on the basis of mutuality of interests in the economic and security spheres has been very successful. India is enlarging the ambit of friendships with European democracies, Australia, Japan and Israel -- including association with Quad -- to promote collective security against these dangers. As a nation with a voice in the global matters pertaining to war and peace, India is working for self-reliance in the area of defence and building military strength to take on any aggressive move of the PLA on the LAC and punish Pakistan for any provocation from across the LOC.
India has maintained close friendship with Russia which has -- apart from defence deals with India -- been on the same page on the vital issues of Afghanistan and radicalization. It is the policy of mutuality of security interests in Afghanistan that has made India work in collaboration with Iran, notwithstanding the conflicts that this country had with the US and Israel. Indian diplomacy has worked hard to keep the Western powers convinced of the legitimacy of India's policy towards all these other countries.
Finally, there is an added challenge on the internal security front because of the intent of the China-Pak combine to instigate acts of terror, insurgency and sectarian discord in India in an attempt to destabilize this country. A new dimension of the domestic scene of India is the rise of civil society forums which in collusion with anti-India lobbies abroad and elements hostile to the Modi government at home, play politics by proxy on issues ranging from Kashmir to Northeast and from safety of Dalits and minorities to poverty alleviation. Fortunately, we are getting adequate Intelligence to draw a line between genuine protests and sponsored agitations.
(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau; the views expressed are personal)
(Keywords : president, prime minister, Biden, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, China, America, India, Pakistan, military, alliance, defence, challenge, concern, security, dominant, power, history. )
- End of Border Standoff with China Satisfies India, but It Will Not ... ›
- Why Feminism is just a word for the Rural Women in India? Find out ... ›