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Back in 2008, at the height of the Great Recession, I had a conversation with a friend who works on Wall Street. He was complaining about government “bailouts,” but when I pointed out that several financial institutions got bailouts as well, he suddenly felt differently.
“They had to do that,” he said. “Otherwise, it would have been a disaster.”
To me, this conversation highlights how often one’s point of view is determined by that person’s circumstance. Today, we once again see the government stepping in to save industries, including aviation. And there will be some who, like my friend, see this as unnecessary. Those of us in the industry, however, realize it is essential in order to avoid a much greater economic disaster.
According to a recent survey of more than 500 travel advisors conducted by TravelAge West — part of our weekly Need to Know research series — 73% of respondents feel that government aid will be very important to an economic recovery. The majority (55%) report that they have needed government help themselves in order to stay in business. (You can find the full results here.)
The airlines have been at the front of the line when it comes to government aid — and, like it or not, that’s probably appropriate. Airlines are critical to every part of the travel industry, not to mention the economy in general.
This issue’s cover story, "Everything You Need to Know About Flying Now and Post-Pandemic," examines how the airlines might change in a post-pandemic world, and I think one difference we would all like to see from them is more flexibility with customers and partners. After all, if taxpayers are going to lend a hand, it seems only fair that the airlines consider a few traveler-friendly changes.
Industry organizations such as the American Society of Travel Advisors should have a seat at the table when it comes to future policies at the airlines. A solid partnership between airlines and advisors will be the best way to assure an even stronger recovery for all parties.