The aviation industry is slowly but surely picking itself up from the biggest downturn in jet-age history, with the fewest movements ever on the 14:th of March according to some sources. What will happen is anybody’s guess, but experts are reasonably in agreement that it will take a few years before things are back to normal – if they ever will be – where ‘normal’ would be the situation before Covid-19. The threats are many. Environmentalists are doing what they can to keep people from flying. Fewer flights and initially fewer seats onboard necessitate higher fares, leaving – again – the market open for some operators to undercut with planes and crew available for the picking, and possibly coming back from bankruptcy under new names with all debts gone.
One (1) government – Austria’s – has realized the danger and without further ado outlawed low-fare airline tickets, and in doing so giving flight safety a big boost, possibly without knowing it. The reason for their action is claimed to be environmental concerns and also salary consolidations. No ticket under 40€ and shorter trips by train is the thing. The salary concern and the ticket price are interesting since they eliminates the interest from low-cost airlines and thus a stroke of genius from that government. By all means pilots are definitely not less safe with a low salary as long as they are adequately trained. What affects safety when cost-cutting comes into play (as mentioned repeatedly in this blog), is the ambition to maximize profits by giving pilots minimum training, maximum duty hours and spending a minimum also on maintenance and fuel reserves. When aviation authorities fail to regulate the industry for maximum safety, the way of Austrias government could be a new road to follow.
The effect on safety by sound employment situations for airline crews, with conditions agreed upon by management and unions – and especially the adverse effect on safety by lack of same – has been discussed at length in previous articles, as has the effect of budget airlines on the industry as a whole. It is thus regrettable that regular airlines with longstanding good reputations are surprisingly quick to adapt, like highly respectable BA considering to fire its pilots and re-hiring them on a cheaper contract. That should however not have any immediate effect on flight safety (apart from what may come from less motivation showing up for work by some), but it is a highly questionable move.
To give some credit for safety concerns by authorities, it should be mentioned that the European Union keeps updating its list of airlines banned to fly in Europe. With todays update a total of 96 airlines, not only budget airlines, are banned from the EU skies. They can be found on the European Commission EU Air Safety List.
To end on a positive note Boeing lovers will be happy, when they most likely will see B737 MAX back in the skies earlier that expected. According to some sources Boeing is aiming for key certification flights in a few weeks.