The regional aviation sector, have endured a brutal downturn during the Covid-19 pandemic, is now well on the road to recovery, according to Adel Abdullah Ali (pictured), Chief Executive Officer – Air Arabia.
Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of the 9th Arab Aviation Summit held recently in the UAE Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, Ali noted that airline passengers who had shunned travel over the past two years are now returning in droves.
He said: “Over the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation sector was one of the most affected sectors in the world. During 2020 and 2021, most of the airline passengers had shelved plans to travel because of the pandemic. They were unsure whether to travel or not.”
Early on in the pandemic, passengers shelved air travel because of the fear of dealing with what was a relatively unknown bug – the coronavirus, he explained. But in 2021, millions began travelling again once airlines adopted protective measures such as PCR testing, mandatory masking, and other safeguards – initiatives that assured travellers that a ’10-hour flight came with the same risks of exposure as getting into a taxi or entering a restaurant’.
Airplanes, the CEO said, are built with some of the most modern technologies when it comes to the quality of air in the cabin. Air filters ensure that the air quality is better than even the air in hospitals, he stressed.
With the threat from Covid-19 exposure rapidly receding, the CEO urged people to consider travelling again. “Airports are getting very busy again, and I would encourage everyone to (no longer worry about) this issue,” he said.
Asked about the risk of rising airline fares hurting the aviation sector, the CEO remarked: “I encourage people who want to travel to book early because the airline industry today operates on the supply-and-demand principle; thus as the demand goes up and the aircraft gets full, all the airlines tend to slowly raise the prices. But if you’re planning to travel, book your airline ticket based on the best deal in the market or you will be shelling out more money for your seat.”
Sharjah-headquartered Emirati low cost carrier Air Arabia launched its first flight from Muscat International Airport in November 2020.