Cloudy Skies for the Aviation Industry

Rebekah Valero-Lee Aerospace and Defence


In recent months there has been a non-stop conveyor belt of stories surrounding troublesome airlines, but how has all this come about? How has everything gone from bad to worse? Especially with the aviation industry in the UK supporting 961,000 jobs and contributing £52 billion to UK GDP. All in all, UK passengers have now experienced their fair share of turbulence, so how did we reach such a high altitude to a point of no return?

Airlines fail to hit the mark

First there was Ryanair and its pilot rota mishap and then Monarch’s bankruptcy stole the spotlight. Apparently, Monarch’s struggle began as it became easier to book low cost airlines and the focus shifted from customer services toward those who offered the cheapest fare. The weakness of the pound after the EU referendum vote and migrant crisis in southern Europe have all kept UK holiday-makers away from some of Monarch’s most popular destinations, inadvertently contributing to the situation. As a result on October 2 2017 authorities launched the biggest peacetime repatriation of Brits to bring Monarch’s last 110,000 passengers home.

Dispute after dispute

How can we forget the Bombardier dispute whereby the government warned aircraft manufacturer Boeing it could lose UK defence contracts over its part in a US decision to add tariffs of 219% on rival Bombardier. This dispute threatens to sour trade relations between London and Washington as well as affecting endless jobs and with Brexit on the horizon, nobody wants that. We know the issue of Brexit is particularly acute for the airline industry given existing agreements allowing companies to fly between the UK and the EU, which will all have to be renegotiated before the UK formally exits.

Our design engineers Morson Projects have an office in Belfast and partner with Bombardier on a number of projects. Andy Hassall, associate business development director, said healthy competition between Airbus, Bombardier and Boeing has always driven innovation and continuous improvement in the Aerospace industry. With the US government adding 219% import duty, let’s hope this doesn’t create a “tit for tat” dispute between three governments that have traditionally been strong trade allies whilst also potentially stifling innovation and causing job losses.”

A new take-off

Despite all of the mishaps, closures and concerns mentioned, there may be some good news on the horizon for passengers by the name of the Electric Commuter Plane. This hybrid-electric commuter aircraft backed by Boeing could take off in 2022, but what can it do for us? Well the small plane is the first of several planned by Zunum Aero, which is said to be able to seat up to 12 passengers and be powered by two electric motors, dramatically reducing the travel time and the cost of trips under 1,000 miles (1,600km).

It’s clear that the airline industry is not a turbulence-free zone and yet no one is stopping us from booking those all-important holidays next summer – Brexit or no Brexit.

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