Published On: December 30th, 2021By Categories: Flarepath3.1 min read

I think everyone will be breathing out a collective sigh of relief as the end of the year draws nearer and we can finally close the chapter on 2021. It was a bad one.

Make no doubt about it, the Covid-19 crisis is still with us. It has not gone away or disappeared. We are learning to live with the virus and its different mutations. Brace yourselves I am sure there will be a fourth or even a fifth wave. But it’s no big deal now – we have contactless travel, biometrics, masks, sanitizing stations, tests before and on entry and beautiful HEPA filters. We should not be stopping people from boarding an aircraft. I pray we don’t ever have to go through a total shutdown like we did the year before.

So, I took the opportunity to go back on the other Flarepaths that I had written over the past 12 months, as a kind of dip-stick measurement to see how things had fared. And there are a few milestones that I would like to recall, namely: the return of SAA in a much smaller form, the untimely death of two aviation legends Major General Des Barker and Colonel Rama Iyer while taking out the Patchen Explorer for a flight at AFB Swartkop and the first long haul KLM flight from Charles de Gaulle airport in France to Montreal in Canada using 16% sustainable aviation fuel.

It’s the promise of innovation and invention that will lead the way to an exciting solution to decarbonizing and reducing aviation’s carbon emissions that has me excited for 2022. Out of the crisis of the climate change aviation should surely be able to do something. That’s a good one – one for 2022.

Just look at Rolls Royce’s all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft which they have claimed has set a new world record as the fastest all-electric aircraft. It clocked up a maximum speed of 623 km/h (387.4 mph) – not bad for an aircraft propelled by a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack.

And then on the local South African front – news just in that Mango – one of our South African low-cost airlines – will probably be put up for sale as a commercial online platform Commerce24.co.za has offered a hand of help to business rescue practitioner Sipho Sono of Opis Advisory assistance to market and dispose of state-owned airline Mango. Let’s see what happens here. It might not be so bad after all.

So, as we head into 2022, indications are commercial air travel is in much better shape than earlier post-COVID expectations. This is buoyed by the global distribution and the uptake of COVID vaccines both of which will also help to boost travel this year.

The International Air Transport Association, the industry’s main trade body, has predicted that net losses at airlines would narrow to (US) $11.6 billion in 2022 from (US) $51.8 billion this year. “We are past the deepest point of the crisis,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh told the group’s annual meeting. “While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view.”

The organisation continued to urge governments to keep wage support measures and slot wavers in place until international traffic recovers. Africa, of course, is a different story. Read the story from AFRAA about the year to come on page 32.

In closing then two phrases come to mind. ‘We are not out of the woods yet’, but there is definitely ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Let me take the opportunity to wish all our readers a happy, safe Christmas. Take care of yourselves so that you can fly high.

 

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