2020, the start of a new decade, where growth was the agenda;
instead became the year nobody wants to remember;
It started with a bang with fireworks and hope;
but has ended 12 months later in a ‘new normal’ and an industry broke.
A new enemy arrived miniscule in dimension;
that has had disastrous effects that are beyond comprehension.
And, as epidemiology, virology and clinical features took centre stage;
the world went quiet as on the ground aircraft stayed.
From bat, pangolin, mink or even a lab;
where this virus originated scientists still cannot grab.
But a killer of people, industries and economies alike;
its powerful effects meant travel collapsed overnight.
To control COVID’s spread was an impossible prediction;
and most of the world added travel restrictions.
Protecting public health was paramount, but were blanket travel bans the answer?
They have not worked in the past and infections are still growing faster.
Borders were closed, flights cancelled, office visits limited;
even a BBQ at the beach or footie with mates was prohibited.
Regularly washing our hands, losing track of days, became life in a global pandemic;
wearing masks out the house was also endemic.
Quarantines, lock-downs, and self-isolation;
became bubbles and corridors, but there still was frustration.
Stuck in our homes doing business on zoom;
checking out the décor in our colleagues front room.
Limited office banter gone, everyone’s now online all the time;
working hard in front of a screen – for our eyes it’s a crime.
A sly glass of wine at 11am became the new normal;
as our business day life became less and less formal.
Wearing clothes even became optional as only our top halves were seen;
what we had on below was never displayed on the screen.
Travelling is not always fun – we hated delays and being stuck overseas;
but suddenly all we wanted was the chance to leave.
Grounded at home, a trip to the shop was the highlight;
becoming teachers for our children became a new daily fight.
Our mental health was struggling being stuck in a hole;
that we even started to miss airport crowds and travel’s toll.
Those check-in queues, disruption at security and lonely hotel panoramas;
turned from being hated to remembered as our real life dramas.
Those handshakes over coffee on the conference floor;
packed auditoriums or sly trips to the hotel pool, became no more.
For CAPA, a hugely successful event in Doha was as good as it got;
but out of our memory it was quickly forgot.
For CTC, a China event highlighted the new travel rules in full force;
With two 14 day quarantines required and now par for the course.
Adapt, realign became the buzzwords at executive level;
and a year of global travel was replaced with a virtual online battle.
You used to be able to travel the world with a conference each week;
now we can do it without even disturbing our sleep.
We are all eager to meet face-to-face, but with no in-person events possible;
the excellent CAPALive virtual events are successful and laudable.
While sentiment is low, there are still plenty of people who really want to travel;
everyone has become fed up when their plans unravel.
Air travel has fallen into an unprecedented crisis;
unable to recover through its own devices.
Government aid through one process or another;
has helped to provide cash for lost revenue cover.
But is it enough to save an industry we all cherish?
Or will 2020, be remembered as the year airlines perished?
“Right now, Low Cost Carriers seem to be in the best place;
they can alter their routes and shift planes apace.
When will we recover? 2022, 23, 24, 25?
The big question is who can hold their breath long enough to survive.
Even now as the calendar year ends, we simply don’t know.
Will 2021 be better? We really hope so!