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.

Due to less air travel, total global carbon emission has reduced by 8.8% in the first half of 2020.



TSA continues piloting “self service” checkpoint technology which automatically matches a traveler’s ID with a live photo and confirms flight information in near real time – initial tests at Washington National Airport (DCA) and McCarran International airport (LAS).

Digitalization and modernization of the air-traffic control system is being used to effectively manage an increasingly congested airspace. In addition, airlines looking to install anti-microbial LED lighting in all lavatories which reduces the growth of bacteria.

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

IATA estimate that global traffic will not reach pre-pandemic levels before 2024 forecasting that global air revenue will decline by 46% in 2021 from 2019.  Airlines such as Flybe, Avianca and Virgin Australia have filed bankruptcy; AirAsia Japan and Cathay Dragon ceased operations due to low demand.

Corporate Travel globally is down by 85% compared to 2019 – some airlines have started to shift routes to leisure destinations vs. big-city business routes.

To ensure the safety of passengers airlines such as British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta and Alitalia are looking to launch voluntary COVID-19 tests for some flights as tests.  Airlines are looking at a piloting a program called CommonPass for sharing COVID-19 statuses across borders. Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong – Singapore and United Airlines’ New York – London flights are among the first to undergo trials.

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