Etihad Airways: COVID-19 vaccine won’t solve crisis

It is tempting to think about the current crisis as something that one day will be gone, or at least can be gone if we try hard enough. But most likely that is not the way we should be thinking. 

“What we are hoping is that will change in the next couple of months or years, is that we will have two game-changers: either vaccines or rapid tests,” Andrija Brstina, Manager of Hub & Midfield Operations Planning at Etihad Airways, said in Air Convention Digital Week 2.0. With 250+ institutions working on the vaccine and expected deployment in the fourth quarter of 2020, there is a good chance it will suppress the outbreak to non-pandemic levels. 

But does that mean the crisis will be over? Will COVID-19 disappear by the end of 2021, as the whole world population is expected to be supplied with vaccines? 

“It is hard to actually imagine that, and it is more likely that will not happen. The vaccine might help us suppress COVID-19 circulation, but the virus will definitely be circulating, and there will be sporadic outbreaks,” Brstina said. 

Such a development would come as no surprise, considering the unavailability of adequate health care, low trust in medical institutions, and other problems many world’s communities face.

This means preparing for long-term change and adapting an airport’s functionality to the new conditions. Such an adaptation should include every step the airport’s customers undergo, from their departure from home, to the arrival at the new destination. It will require significant investments and significant innovation, but there is simply no other way if we are expecting the return of the demand, Brstina explained.

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