WILLIE WALSH: We’re all sick to death from Zoom



Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have had a catastrophic impact on our ability to connect with families, friends or for business.

Globally, air transport collapsed by more than 90% at the height of the crisis, and the UK was one of the worst affected countries.

As an island, the UK depends on air travel to connect to the world. When the borders were closed and expensive tests and quarantine requirements were put in place, everyone in the UK suffered – jobs and businesses in the economy, but also mental health and wellbeing. – being the millions of people who have been denied the opportunity to visit family and friends abroad, or who are desperate for a vacation in the sun.

Under the circumstances, we have all been forced to rely on digital substitutes: Zoom, Skype, Teams, FaceTime etc. We had no choice but to use these options as true face-to-face contact was not possible.

“When I ran British Airways, I was always told that soon a lot of flights would be killed by video calls. I think our experience with virtual meetings over the past two years has shown us the opposite – that there is no substitute for a real meeting, ”says Willie Walsh (above)

Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have had a catastrophic impact on our ability to connect with families, friends or for business.  Globally, air travel collapsed by more than 90% at the height of the crisis, and the UK was one of the worst-hit countries

Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have had a catastrophic impact on our ability to connect with families, friends or for business. Globally, air travel collapsed by more than 90% at the height of the crisis, and the UK was one of the worst-hit countries

So I guess we should be thankful that the technology exists to at least give us some level of interaction during this terrible pandemic.

But I’m sure I’m not the only person who, almost two years after this crisis started, has had enough of virtual meetings. Spare us another Zoom family quiz!

And as a business tool, we are all fed up with the same problems that keep coming back. People stuck in the “waiting room” because someone forgot to let them in. Squint at a small presentation on a screen. Yelling at the guy who always forgets to mute.

We’ve all probably gotten to the point where we clap when the connection goes down.

The travel collapse has tested the prophecies of many so-called “futurists” that such technologies will make travel obsolete.

When I ran British Airways I was always told that soon a lot of flights would be killed by video calls. I think our experience with virtual meetings over the past two years has shown us the opposite: that there is no substitute for a real meeting.

I attended a conference in Dublin last Tuesday, the first international conference held in Ireland since the start of the pandemic. Eight hundred people were there.

Under the circumstances, we have all been forced to rely on digital substitutes: Zoom, <a class=Skype, Teams, FaceTime etc. We had no choice but to use these options as true face-to-face contact was not possible. (image file)” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Under the circumstances, we have all been forced to rely on digital substitutes: Zoom, Skype, Teams, FaceTime etc. We had no choice but to use these options as true face-to-face contact was not possible. (image file)

These were people doing business on Zoom and Teams, and they were eager to resume a face-to-face meeting. We had 600 people at the IATA annual meeting in Boston earlier this month – and there was the same attitude.

The value of face-to-face interaction is far greater than anything technology allows us to do. Getting together, hugging a loved one, shaking the hand of a colleague or client – these things can’t and never will have ones and zeros floating on a fiber optic cable.

As we come out of the worst of Covid-19, our society faces many challenges. But there’s one thing I’m sure people will always want to travel. Expats will always want to visit the home.

Vacationers will always want to explore abroad. Conference delegates will always want to network. Negotiators will always want to read the body language of their counterparts.

We have proof of that. Every time a country is taken off the UK’s red list, bookings in that country increase. The last example is that of the United States.

Finally, the White House gave the green light to vaccinated travelers from November 8. That’s excellent news. Bookings from Europe to the United States jumped 250% when the opening was announced last month.

If you get the chance, travel – and much-needed jobs – will bounce back. But he will need help.

Between February and August, the PCR test positivity rate of passengers arriving in the UK was 1%, and the general population test positivity rate was 7%.  We can therefore say with confidence that travel does not increase the risk of Covid-19 in the UK.  The government has shut down air travel ¿now we are going to need government support to ensure Britain flies higher in the future

Between February and August, the PCR test positivity rate of passengers arriving in the UK was 1%, and the general population test positivity rate was 7%. We can therefore say with confidence that travel does not increase the risk of Covid-19 in the UK. The government has shut down air travel – now we are going to need government support to ensure Britain flies higher in the future

The UK was the world’s third largest aviation market. Only the United States and China carried more passengers. And this traffic has supported over a million jobs. This is a testament not only to the adventurous British public, but also to the professionalism and excellence of the UK aviation industry.

Successive British governments have always taken this success for granted. They have treated the airlines like a cash cow, raising billions in air taxes.

They have allowed the country’s main air gateway, Heathrow, to deceive its customers, delivering massive returns to its shareholders while making it the most expensive airport in the world to do business.

But the pandemic has shown that this complacent attitude towards one of Britain’s few indisputable business success stories cannot continue.

The EU’s main competitors have overtaken Britain in many ways, whether in the size of their airlines, the number of routes served, the flexible response to the pandemic or their competitive cost base. The British people and the British economy are about to pay the price for this government neglect.

It is not too late. The UK still has a solid base to rebuild. But the government and civil service will have to take aviation seriously as a strategic asset for Britain.

Consider the environment. Airlines recently pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, offering the possibility of green flights for all. But to get there, we need a much more sustainable aviation fuel.

The Biden administration encourages the production of at least 11 billion liters of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. That’s leadership. This contrasts sharply with the EU’s ReFuel initiative, which imposes mandates but provides no incentive to achieve them.

And we need aircraft manufacturers to develop clean electric and hydrogen airplanes. The government can help encourage this investment. Stealing from, say, £ 1 billion in tariffs for air passengers would be of great help.

The government can also get serious by having Heathrow shareholders share the pain the rest of us have felt during the pandemic.

They are looking to recoup the money they lost over the past two years, not by cutting dividends or realizing efficiency savings, but by increasing landing fees by 90%. This means that a typical family traveling through Heathrow could pay around £ 100 more. Only a monopoly could behave like this.

Most urgent of all, the government must bring the restrictions associated with the pandemic under control. Getting rid of PCR testing for vaccinated travelers this month will be a welcome step. Simplifying the ridiculous traffic light system and reducing the number of countries on the red list is also good news.

But the same mistakes that led the UK to have the world’s most expensive PCR tests are being repeated with the switch to antigen testing. You can pick them up in Europe for € 5 on the main street.

But in the UK, the state-sponsored scam will continue, with tests costing £ 35, available only from a closed store of suppliers. It is not good enough.

Between February and August, the PCR test positivity rate of passengers arriving in the UK was 1%, and the general population test positivity rate was 7%. We can therefore say with confidence that travel does not increase the risk of Covid-19 in the UK.

We’re all sick of Zoom. We much prefer to zoom in to visit people in person. But taking back those jobs, those air routes and those opportunities won’t happen by magic.

The government has shut down air travel – now we’re going to need government support to ensure Britain flies higher in the future.


Previous Jeffrey Epstein bragged about Woody Allen's gift before raping Russian model, lawsuit says
Next Gardaí used WhatsApp to discuss how to 'bypass' 999 emergency calls

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.