(CNN) – For almost every other year, a glimpse of what the future holds for aviation would almost certainly center on exciting things like new planes, airlines and airports.
But it would be impossible to discuss the evolution of the industry for 2022 without referring to the variants, restrictions and challenges of Covid-19 for airlines.
Here we break down some of the most notable changes to come for airlines, passengers, airports and the rest of aviation over the next 12 months, as well as the many problems that the ongoing global pandemic continues to bring. …
No more Covid challenges
The progression of Covid-19, especially newer variants of the virus, is the big question for aviation.
At the time of writing this article, the Omicron variant is still under review to determine how it compares to earlier variants such as Delta and Alpha.
But its emergence has already had a huge impact on travel, with flight bans in place, not to mention the number of travelers testing positive on arrival, passengers escaping from quarantine, and more. Flight cancellations due to pilot shortages have also been a problem during the busy holiday season.
One of the main challenges that airlines and passengers will face in 2022 is managing vaccination certification.
This is especially true when it comes to defining what “vaccinated” means, especially around boosters or third doses.
For example, will travelers who received a single dose vaccine continue to be counted as fully immunized over the next several months? What about those who received two of the two-dose vaccines, but did not receive a booster shot?
Will the rules be different for tourists who have recovered from the coronavirus and received a standard vaccination, as is customary in countries like Germany, or for children in countries where some young people only receive one? single dose of an mRNA vaccine? And how will Omicron affect vaccine status?
There is some pressure for a digital standard based on QR (perhaps the EU’s Covid digital certificate), but it will take a lot of work and negotiation.
Launch of a new airline
Starting a new airline during a pandemic is a wild card to say the least, but Norse Atlantic Airways is rising to the challenge by launching low-cost long-haul flights between Europe and North America.
Of course, its founders would probably prefer you didn’t say “oh, like Norwegian did?” “
But since this is the same team that ran Norwegian and plan to use the same Boeing 787 Dreamliners the airline has used, it’s not too far off.
In the United States, another low-cost company, Northern Pacific Airways aims to launch in 2022 with the ambition of making Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport a hub connecting the United States and Asia via its fleet of narrow-body Boeing 757-200s.
In India, ultra-low-cost start-up Akasa Air is looking to join the fray by the summer, while defunct Jet Airways is ready for a new life in early 2022.
And the new airlines launched in 2021 will be in expansion mode over the next few months.
After starting with flights from its Burbank, Calif. Base in April 2021 to destinations in the western and northwestern United States, Avelo Airlines has expanded, most recently to New Haven, Connecticut, with winter flights to six destinations in Florida.
Breeze Airways, meanwhile, continues to expand its network in the eastern, midwestern and southern United States, with an extensive point-to-point network spanning San Antonio and Oklahoma City to Providence and much of the country. from Tampa to Akron. / Canton and Tulsa.
Breeze is due to put its all-new Airbus A220 jets, which are among the most comfortable, quiet and spacious jets in the sky, into service in the second quarter of 2022.
Keep an eye out for new services from well-known airlines.
United Airlines, for example, is strengthening its transatlantic network in the summer of 2022, adding new flights to Bergen in Norway, the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca and the Canary Island of Tenerife, Ponta Delgada in the Azores and Amman in Jordan.
The airline is also increasing its services to London – with additional flights from Boston, Newark, Denver and San Francisco – as well as adding additional services to Munich, Milan, Berlin, Dublin and Rome from its hubs.
While international travel remains complicated this year, airlines will want to keep their planes in the air.
This means that they are likely to place them on the routes that they think will bring in the most money – in this case, the domestic routes (like in the United States, India or China, or in the Schengen area in Europe).
It’s worth researching the fare deals, but make sure they’re refundable.
After a wave of international airport openings in recent years, 2022 promises to be relatively calm on this front.
However, new and popular terminals will be launched in New York.
First up: Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport, home to Delta Air Lines, which is slated to open in the spring. This new terminal will certainly be a big improvement for the passenger experience.
The new Terminal A (previously confusingly known as Terminal One) will launch in Newark, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, later this year.
On the other side of the Pacific, Bangkok’s main airport Suvarnabhumi is set to open its new satellite terminal 1 in October, following numerous scheduling delays linked to the slowdown in tourism during the pandemic.
Additionally, Chennai International Airport is set to open its own new terminal, which will replace the now demolished Terminals 2 and 3 this year, while the three-story terminal expansion at Australia’s Gold Coast Airport is also expected to be completed. .
In the southern Indian Ocean, the Velana International Airport in the Maldives is adding a new seaplane terminal and a new runway to accommodate larger planes.
And it’s not just the big airports that are opening brand new terminals.
New facilities are expected to open in Pune, Andaman / Port Blair and Leh in India, Provo in the US state of Utah, Columbia in Missouri and Tacloban in the Philippines.
The aviation industry tends to oscillate between two modes: “sell new planes” and “build these planes”. Right now we’re in the latter, with more of the latest planes arriving from factories.
These include the Airbus A320neo, A350 and A330neo family and the Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner.
Airbus has continued deliveries (460 at the end of October, the latest set of data released by the company) despite the pandemic, and the airliner aims to build even more of its popular A320neo family – specifically the A321neo longer that can hold up to 244 passengers in an all-economy configuration.
Boeing, of course, had a huge Max backlog after its safety grounding, while Dreamliner deliveries were halted for over a year due to production quality issues.
But eventually they will resume, and airlines are likely to put the plane directly into service.
This has been the case with Singapore Airlines, which sends its stocked and newly built 737 Max 8 planes straight into the sky with a brand new cabin.
The same is happening at flydubai, the all-737 airline which is an Emirates partner airline.
Don’t expect to see Boeing’s massive 777X stretch in 2022, however. While it was slated for next year at one point, the first deliveries aren’t expected until 2023 or 2024 now.
But passengers are likely to see more planes like the Airbus A321LR (for Long Range) in 2022. An increasing amount of these planes are being produced, which means more flights directly to a central destination rather than connecting through a hub. .
In 2023, keep an eye out for the A321XLR – you guessed it, it’s Extra Long Range.
Updated seats and cabins
While this particular mode of “building” may be less fun for airplane fans at air shows, it is great news for passengers.
Newer planes with updated seats, newer entertainment systems, seat power, and faster Wi-Fi are currently in full ‘construction’ mode and are coming to airlines quickly.
For those traveling in Business Class in particular, that will mean more mini-suites with private doors and all the bells and whistles they could ask for.
At the same time, more and more planes are equipped with premium economy sections. Emirates is the latest airline to add the mid-size cabin, announcing an upcoming 18-month program to install premium economy seats in 105 Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.
Economy cabins will also benefit from technology upgrades in the form of fast-charging USB-C sockets, in-flight entertainment systems that integrate with phone apps, allowing passengers to use Bluetooth headsets.
Other notable updates include space-saving seats that move those knee-cracking support structures around so passengers feel like they have a little more room on board, even if the seats are at a premium. the same distance from each other.
Oddly, with a large number of older planes being retired during the pandemic, passengers are actually more likely than ever to fly in a newer plane with better entertainment and more modern conveniences in 2022.
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