In this blog series, The Effects of COVID-19 on the Travel Industry, we take a closer look at five major sectors of the travel industry and explore current trends and impacts of the pandemic.

In our series, we’ll cover the effects of COVID-19 on:

After more than a decade of explosive growth and the emergence of many innovative startups, the travel industry faces one of the biggest challenges in its history. The global COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economies worldwide, hitting hospitality businesses, airlines, and transportation services particularly hard. Studies suggest the impact will be 9 times worse than 9/11.

The travel business sector is suffering a considerable decline, as companies have been forced to handle meetings through video conferencing. Many may choose to continue with remote communications and eliminate their business travel budgets. To adapt to the new normal,  companies are evaluating existing protocols, such as:

  • Traveler safety
  • Duty of care for employees
  • Policy compliance
  • Eliminating bypass and pre-trip approval

Global Air Trends

Distribution Channels

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) launched New Distribution Capability (NDC) Matchmaker, a free web-based tool to bring more visibility to travel distribution stakeholders who are collaborating on the implementation of the NDC. The NDC Matchmaker enables airlines, travel sellers, and content aggregators (such as global distribution systems) to search, compare, and connect with NDC partners.



Due to increasing environmental concerns, airlines are focusing on reducing carbon emissions on aircrafts. There is also a growing trend of travelers who prefer to bring their own food onboard as a healthier and more affordable alternative to airline meals. Interestingly, alcohol is no longer the most popular choice of beverage on flights.



Security checks are a significant time drain for passengers, especially during peak seasons. As part of an effort to reduce waiting times, airports are testing out new AI-powered scanners to determine potentially dangerous substances or materials. The use of biometrics is also expected to rise during security screenings and passport checks.

As airports worldwide get more and more congested, further digitization and more elaborate air traffic control systems are required to manage an increasingly crowded airspace.

Airlines are also expected to invest heavily in user experience, offering increased personalization through AI and machine learning. By analyzing the booking patterns of each traveler, online booking systems will be able to construct smart offers that combine seat and ancillary services, tailored to the individual’s needs.

During the TCG Global Insights Panel, “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Supplier Landscape”, experts from Marriott and American Airlines address what they plan to do to improve safety protocols. WATCH VIDEO HERE.


Pandemic impact

Since the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns, air traffic has dropped by 95%, and flight cancellations surged 5,000%. IATA estimates that the global airline industry will lose at least $314 billion in revenue. Several airlines such as Flybe, Avianca, Virgin Australia, Trans States Airlines, and Compass Airlines, have either filed for bankruptcy or closed operations indefinitely.

Market research doesn’t predict the situation will improve any time soon. According to an IATA survey, 60% of interviewees stated that they would wait at least two months after the virus has been contained, before booking flights.

Airfares may become prohibitively expensive as airlines comply with social distancing and offer fewer seats on flights. Travelers may be discouraged from booking flights when faced with flight attendants wearing protective gear, such as face shields and hazmat suits.

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