How Will COVID Make Aviation a Better Industry?
The effects of Covid-19 on commercial and general aviation, and the efforts made by the AOPA.
As Covid-19 continues to ravage many different industries around the world, aviators and aircraft enthusiasts are left with the question: How is the aviation industry holding up? What are the effects of Covid-19 in general aviation?
With the pandemic still far from its end, tourism has yet to recover. This situation greatly impacted the amount of all kinds of travel negatively, especially commercial flights. According to the data provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization, it is estimated that there was about a 51% overall reduction in seats offered by airlines, coupled with an overall decrease of 2,891 to 2,894 million passengers in the year 2020. These numbers are projected to continue to worsen until the first half of 2021. The pandemic cost a 391 billion USD potential loss of airlines’ gross passenger operating revenues in 2020 alone.
However, the situation may not be as bleak for private, small plane aviation. An interview by Forbes with Mark Baker, the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, revealed that there’s hope in General aviation. As stated by Mr. Baker, there is a mini-boom in general aviation right now, with a 10 to 15% increase in the number of flights and fuel sales. He even said that there are usually more 172 Cessnas flying than Boeing 373s on most days, which is a sign that general aviation is thriving.
The downfall of commercial aviation became an opportunity for alternative forms of transportation, particularly general aviation. Although commercial aviation is cheaper, GA offers a different value proposition. Commercial flights expose you to many people, increasing your chances of catching the virus. GA eliminates this. GA also competes on convenience in a way, removing waiting and queuing times. The country has more than 5,000 airports, and one of them will be closer to your destination if you take your own plane than a commercial one. The safety of GA has also improved significantly over the past two decades. Thanks to the AOPA’s efforts, some regulatory burdens that prevented new technologies from being retrofitted into older planes have been removed.
The AOPA has been doing a great service to the general aviation industry. For example, among the 5,000 airports in the country, only less than 400 of them are being used by airlines. There have been petitions to close some of the smaller airports, but the AOPA stands against them. These 5,000 public airports create close to a million jobs.
This is why, through the CARES Act, 100$ million has been allocated to these public-use airports in order to preserve and upgrade them to lengthen their functionality. The level of airport infrastructure in America is unique, as there is no other place in the world that has this kind of access. The AOPA is very active in ensuring that the airports are funded.
For general aviation to prosper in the coming years, the AOPA aims to increase the number of pilots. They started a program called “You Can Fly,” with the goal of building the pilot community. The program supports flying clubs, promotes best practices in flight training, and encourages former pilots to get back to flying.
But according to Mr. Baker, the most important piece is the introduction of aviation to the high school curriculum. Not everyone who takes the course will become a pilot. Some of them may want to become a mechanic or air traffic controller. Awareness of the aviation industry is already a valuable outcome. Hopefully, the program will also increase females and minority pilots in the pilot population. As it turns out, only 6% of the country’s active pilots are female, and only 6% come from minority groups.
It may not be apparent, but general aviation took a small boom due to Covid-19. Now is probably a great time to own a plane. Or, if you have one, start using it more frequently. If you need maintenance or repairs for your aircraft, Knisley Exhaust got you covered. You’ll find what you need in our extensive inventory. Contact us at 800-522-6990.