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Route changes post-COVID?
I know it seems counter-intuitive, but do you think there will be new routes as “we go back to normal”?
The way I see it, either there is some silver-bullet vaccine and airlines race to get back to the status quo, or they have to try and re-start with some extra measures in place. The economics of flights might change. Social-distancing rules seem near impossible in airports and on flights but at least on flights people are mostly stationary.
I wonder whether we will see an even faster move away from hub airports and to point-to-point travel?
I also wonder whether any extra measures will increase the time spent at the airport and make alternatives more attractive – I never understood why people flew from Paris to London when there is a decent train service – if you spend an extra hour at the airport each end it is even less attractive.
We’re also apparently going to see a lot of surplus (and presumably cheap) aircraft around, and a lot of out-of-work crew. The business environment is obviously terrible, but in some ways, it is a good time to start a new route!
Eurostar, once it was up and running, absolutely gutted the air market between London and Paris – and for good reason. Not only do you not have to be at the airport so early, but the trains are city center to city center – no cab/Uber/Metro into and out of the city. I suspect (at least in the case of folks from the US) that most people simply dont think about the train because we dont have them as abundantly as they do in Europe. We typically fly or drive unless you are in and around the region of the NEC.
I dont think hubs will disappear. In fact, given the potential changes to flying (exams, temperatue checks, tests, whatever) I’d think airlines would want to consolodate those operations in as few places as possible. More likely I think that smaller routes are left shuttered until demand comes back, and frequencies on heavier trafficed routes will be reduced. I think you’ll end up seeing air “super highways” where air traffic is funneled to specific airports.
I’m also curious about how this will affect future travel. I’m currently looking a trip for next year to Chile/Argentina and a lot of the routing I’m pulling is on Avianca. I’m hesitant to book seeing as they may not even be flying these routes next year.