Insights

How To Know When It Will Be Safe To Fly Again In COVID-19 Era

Featured In Forbes

By Tim Hoyland  and Bruce Hamory, MD
This article first appeared in Forbes on May 5, 2020.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it took the nation’s aviation industry about a decade to fully recover. There were two recessions in the following 10 years that didn’t help, but one of the persistent problems was that Americans were nervous about traveling, despite the low odds of being involved in a terrorist attack.

The immediate impact on aviation from COVID-19 dwarfs the aftermath of 9/11, with a drop in demand in excess of 95 percent versus around 30 percent in the months following the attacks. Nevertheless, it poses a similar challenge: What will it take to get people to feel safe and flying again?

As the United States finally begins to consider reviving the economy after months of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and alarming death statistics, one of the biggest tasks ahead will be rebuilding public confidence. This job will be made even more difficult by the almost certain need to continue practices like social distancing and wearing protective gear well after businesses reopen.

After months of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and alarming death statistics, one of the biggest tasks ahead will be rebuilding public confidence.

A COVID-19 vaccine would work to allay fears, but one is not likely to be ready before the second half of 2021 at the earliest. Until then, would-be passengers need to know that airlines are fully informed on COVID-19 developments and playing by the same set of safety rules, just the way they did when it came to terrorism post 9/11. 

After 9/11, the symbol of that coordination and intense monitoring came in the form of a color-coded threat level assessment that informed the traveling public about the degree of risk. We need the government and industry to create something similar for infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19. Learn more in the full article in Forbes.

 

An Example of An Infectious Disease Threat Assessment

Source: Oliver Wyman

Editor's note: Oliver Wyman is monitoring the COVID events in real time and we have compiled resources to help our clients and the industries they serve. Please continue to monitor the Oliver Wyman Coronavirus hub for updates.