Flying, Democracy and Safety 2.

gray airplane illustration
Photo by Alex Powell on Pexels.com

In a Century, our response to dangerous viruses has changed dramatically.  The context in which a pandemic takes place has changed dramatically too. World population in 1918 was an estimated 1.8 billion[1]. Rather different from the current global population of about 7.5 billion.

Flying was in its infancy in 1918. In the inter-war period, the technology of flying was advancing rapidly. I’ve been listening to #TwentyDays, an online celebration of the 90th anniversary of aviator Amy Johnson’s flight from England to Australia[2]. She became the first solo woman to fly from Croydon to Darwin.  It’s a fascinating travelogue that reminds us that the world pre-WWII was a completely different place.

It was expected that 2020 would set a record for the number of scheduled airline passengers to about 4.7 billion. Now, that is certainly impossible. Most of the world’s civil aircarft are parked. Again, the world is in flux.

The number of CORVID-19 deaths worldwide is 335,993 according to Johns Hopkins University. Yes, this is a long way from the global shock of the largest pandemic in history (1918-20) but it is changing everything.

Daily the news is saddening for those who have made their lives in aviation. Jobs are going in every sector but most particularly manufacturing and aircraft operations. UK company Rolls-Royce[3] plans to cut around 9,000 jobs in response to a drop off in demand. Aviation is completely consumed with the consequence of the CORVID-19 pandemic. British Airways’ owner, IAG, has made a decision to make 12,000 staff redundant.

The future of air travel has transformed in a matter of a few months. For anyone travelling in these challenging times the rules applicable are changing almost daily. In Europe, for most aviation organisations preparations for the end of the transition phase for the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) have been put on the back burner.

Last Monday, the penultimate round of negotiations between the UK and the EU took place[4]. Officials and commentators on both sides are becoming increasingly doubtful a deal can be done in the time allotted[5]. Not only that but a strange exchange of letters has taken place between the two negotiating parties[6]. Both parties are defending their interests, so it seems strange that such negative grandstanding is taking place.

If looking for some good news, from the point of view of transparency, the “DRAFT WORKING TEXT FOR AN AGREEMENT ON CIVIL AVIATION SAFETY BETWEEN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE EUROPEAN UNION” are now made public. The UK’s draft negotiating document makes interesting reading.

 

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/spanish-flu-largest-influenza-pandemic-in-history

[2] http://amyjohnsonartstrust.co.uk/

[3] @RollsRoyce

[4] https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu/britain-eu-start-penultimate-round-of-talks-before-key-deadline-idUKKBN22N0VF

[5] https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2020-05-07/europe-aviation-still-facing-uncertainty-brexit-talks-stall

[6]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/886168/Letter_to_Michel_Barnier_19.05.20.pdf

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