It was bound to happen, and I guess we in the travel sector just hoped that it wouldn’t be too severe, but the after-effects of COVID-19, combined with the knock-on effects of the current energy crisis, are proving to be devastating for Airlines and Airports alike particularly in Europe, a prime travel destination for our business sector and holidaymakers. As if the travel industry were not already sufficiently beaten down by the financial losses from the pandemic, we now have to face a brand-new looming crisis and that is one simply of lack of availability when our clients finally want to spread their wings again!
Airlines taken down
During the COVID era, Airlines suffered massive losses and cutbacks as they had to react to the crisis by cutting costs. As one excellent article from EHL posted at the time said ‘’Most have by now grounded their entire fleet and have put, whenever possible, their staff into unemployment schemes offered by governments. They have also started to give credit notes to passengers whose flights were cancelled instead of reimbursements and cancellation penalties under EU law. This last point alone would tip most airlines into financial distress and regulations will have to come into effect to resolve this issue by the European Union.’’
We in South Africa have, at the time of writing, just heard that Sasol have supply issues which means that here in SA jet fuel supply may become a problem. This, on top of already massive price hikes in fuel thanks to the Ukraine war disrupting global energy supplies and the demise of Comair, which included Kulula, a favourite local carrier. This has resulted in large price hikes for local passengers both locally and abroad.
Airport chaos in Europe
Now we are faced with another issue that the dreaded COVID pandemic created, the crippling aftermath of Airports in Europe now being simply unable to cope with the travel demand. A disturbing but predictable picture of the ensuing chaos has been painted this week in the local news which blames the pandemic and the necessity for Airports to have to cut staff, like baggage handlers, security, and check-in services, during COVID’s height, resulting in Airports across Europe being left in chaos with flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage leaving thousands of travellers stranded.
So, what if anything, can we as travellers from and within South Africa do to try to alleviate some of these issues?
Plan well ahead
I never wanted to be the one to say it, but the necessity to plan your travel so well in advance in these times means that possibly even some trips that you had planned for the immediate future (to Europe anyway) should be postponed so that you can reap the benefits of booking in advance, planning ahead and allowing some of the dust to settle in the airline industry.
Do your research
It would pay to do a little research before undertaking any travel plans, including finding out what flight packages may be available with advanced booking, what airports are likely to be affected in the future and to what extent, and what the best destinations will be to travel to in a few months.
Look for alternate options
Seek all possible travel package options, especially flights as these are changing every day. There are many search engines like our own Rennies Flight finder that give you options and alternatives, and once again if you book well enough in advance these options become all the more attractive
Consult the professionals!
I know I have said this in many articles, but I cannot sufficiently express how important it is to work with travel professionals and partner with a good TMC. These people are trained to foresee the kind of issues that we are facing now and, in many cases, would have enabled travellers to avoid many of the issues being faced now by having the right travel plans in place. It always pays to work with professionals and this is the best advice I can give if you want to get the jump on troubled Airlines and Airport chaos!
Stay alert for opportunities, plan ahead and you’ll always keep the wanderlust alive!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER