Despite the many nuisances that come with it, I have always contended that leisure air travel is one of the most charming activities. Leisure flying presents convenience, speed and fulfilment to us and this is the main reason we can never have enough of it. Yet, on occasions, it can be uncomfortable – especially in economy class – and bumpy, while often is stressful and entails many limitations that in other respects you would never accept in your customary life.
Overall, excitement, delight and elation are aspects associated with the holiday experience, going on a vacation or visiting a city abroad. For the majority of people the combination of going through the airport scenery and the entire flight experience is the added bonus on top of every good overseas escape. Extensive market research and experimental studies have established that leisure travel whether it is a short break or round-the-world trip, raises people’s spirit and generates positive effects and different emotions including excitement and joy.
Personally, I consider unrestricted air travel between and through nations as the most wonderful privilege of the air transport industry. This implicit entitlement is safeguarded by the ICAO ‘Freedoms of the Air’ a set of commercial aviation rights authorizing airlines the right to utilize another country’s airspace. However, other than bringing places and cultures closer together, air travel also brings the feel-good factor to millions of people.
For all good reasons, I felt it was somewhat distressing to read about the prospect of the Brexit trade talks collapsing and thereafter, restrictions for UK travellers for entering the EU block after the negotiations were completed. We find ourselves at a point where we should enthuse people to return onto flights and to go on a vacation rather than preventing them from free movement.
Having said that, it is very pleasing to see other new initiatives emerging to create wider air travel opportunities for tourists and entrepreneurs alike. Recently, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed on a plan to allow more relaxed travel arrangements between the two countries. Few days ago, Saudi Arabia also announced that would allow Qatari flights through Saudi airspace signalling an end to the three-year-long crisis. From an industry perspective, this policy is encouraging too.
The absence of air travel seriously touches normal life globally
In my opinion, the importance of air travel is uncontested. The most evocative aspect of the 2020 happenings is that we all understood the significance of air travel for societies around the world. It is now evident that ‘flying’ is the heart and soul of the economy and commerce of many countries, geographic regions and cities. The absence of air travel (flying) seriously touches normal life globally. Interestingly, a widespread disease is not the sole factor that can cause airports to close down and aircraft operations to stop. Geophysical events like volcanic eruptions and socio-political turmoil such as wars can have a similar devastating effect on aviation. Therefore, it is not very accurate when commentators and industry experts talk about “unprecedented times” for the air transport sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already witnessed similar situations in the course of aviation history. Noticeably though, whichever the factor behind the chaos, the reality is that the absence of air travel brings devastation to many industries, terminates businesses and generates deep sorrow in the hearts of millions.
Having said all that, this writing is not an attempt to demonstrate a blameless aviation industry. Neither I am uninterested to aviation’s harmful effects nor indifferent to its environmental footprint. I simply believe that technology and innovations can progressively slow down these undesirable factors. What I am trying to point out is that our collective experiences over the years accentuate that the benefits gained from Aviation are greater than its adverse effects. Air travel provides essential resources and services, which are central to the survival of several communities, businesses, and trades too. The sector offers substances that sustain the welfare, prosperity and happiness of many people around the world. We should learn to appreciate aviation’s dividends and try to prosper through this pursuit as we now realise that air travel is a stimulus to many people’s contentment and an integral part of modern lifestyles around the world.