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17週年大視野精選
【高端限免】Back in business: are airlines ready for a summer travel boom?
生意回來了:航空公司準備好應對夏季出行高峯了嗎?

The aviation industry is struggling to ramp up operations after two years of Covid disruptions, cost-cutting and redundancies | 在經歷了兩年的疫情中斷、成本削減和大規模裁員後,航空業正在努力擴大運營以應對激增的出行需求。

For almost two years during the coronavirus pandemic, one of the two terminals at London’s Gatwick airport stood empty as passengers stayed at home and the travel industry battled for survival.
在新冠疫情的近兩年時間裏,倫敦蓋特威克機場(Gatwick airport)的兩個航站樓之一一直空著,因爲乘客們都呆在家裏,旅遊業也在苦苦掙扎。
The mothballed South Terminal became an eerie place: the shutters were drawn at shops and restaurants, baggage carousels and boarding gates were closed, and motion-sensitive lights flickered on to interrupt the darkness. Police used the empty space for training drills, and many of the planes were left indefinitely on the tarmac, their engines wrapped in covers to protect them.
停用的南航站樓成了一個陰森恐怖的地方:商店和餐館都拉上了百葉窗,行李轉盤和登機口都關閉了,閃爍的自動感應燈打破了黑暗。警方利用這片空地進行訓練演習,許多飛機被無限期地放在停機坪上,發動機被包裹在保護罩中。
Gatwick was not alone. The aviation industry was in the deep freeze after demand for flying collapsed because of travel restrictions brought in around the world to control the spread of Covid-19.
蓋特威克並非孤例。世界各地爲控制新冠疫情傳播而實行的旅行限制,導致飛行需求大幅下降,航空業陷入深度凍結。
Airline and airport executives bemoaned a historic crisis and many governments funnelled direct cash support to help the industry survive. Companies shed tens of thousands of jobs, loaded up on debt and parked planes to ride out the disruption.
航空公司和機場高階主管哀嘆這是一場歷史性危機,許多政府直接提供現金支持,以幫助航空業維持生存。航空公司削減了數以萬計的工作崗位,增加舉債,並停飛飛機以度過危機。
But after 24 months of crisis management, passengers are suddenly coming back so quickly that the industry does not know what to do with them.
但經過24個月的危機管理後,乘客們突然如此迅速地迴歸,以至於航空業不知道該如何應對。
The number of scheduled flights has recovered to 89 per cent of 2019 levels this month, having fallen to just a third in April 2020, according to a Financial Times analysis of data from Cirium, a consultancy.
英國《金融時報》對諮詢公司Cirium的數據進行的分析顯示,在於2020年4月下降到僅三分之一後,本月的定期航班數量已恢復到2019年水準的89%。
The revival comes as border restrictions loosen across much of the world, setting off a scramble at airports and airlines to ramp up operations, rehire staff and get planes back into the air.
隨著世界大部分地區放寬邊境限制,機場和航空公司紛紛擴大運營、重新招聘員工並讓飛機重新起飛,復甦隨之而來。
Some markets were more resilient than others, particularly larger countries such as the US and China, which were shielded by continued demand for domestic flying. But the industry is now recovering around the globe, even in parts of Asia-Pacific where borders have just begun reopening.
一些市場比其他市場更有韌性,尤其是美國和中國等較大型國家,它們受到持續的國內飛行需求的保護。但現在全球範圍內的航空業正在復甦,甚至在邊界剛剛重新開放的亞太部分地區也是如此。
Easter was the first busy period in two years for many markets and a dry run for the peak of the northern hemisphere summer months of July and August.
對許多市場來說,復活節是兩年來的第一個繁忙期,也是北半球7月和8月夏季高峯的預演。
“The demand that we’ve seen over the last five weeks has been historic. We’ve never sold more tickets in any period in [our] public history . . . it’s been remarkable,” says Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines’ chief executive.
達美航空(Delta Air Lines)首席執行長埃德•巴斯蒂安(Ed Bastian)表示:「我們在過去五週看到的需求是歷史性的。在(我們的)公共歷史上,我們從未在哪個時期售出過這麼機票......這太了不起了。」
The surge vindicates airline bosses who insisted that demand for travel would come back as soon as travel restrictions disappeared, and it will inject critical revenue into cash-strapped companies.
航空公司的老闆們堅持認爲,一旦旅行限制取消,旅行需求就會恢復,這一激增證明了他們是正確的,並將爲現金緊張的航司注入關鍵的收入。
But the rise in demand has also seen the industry crumple under the pressure, as many airports and airlines struggle to handle the growing passenger numbers, particularly after cutting costs to the bone during the crisis. That has left limited financial resources to plough into the restart.
但是,需求的成長也暴露了該行業在壓力下的問題,因爲許多機場和航空公司難以應對不斷成長的乘客數量,尤其是在危機期間將成本削減到最低限度之後。這使得可用於重啓的財力資源有限。
“The choices are unenviable,” says Martin Chalk, head of the pilots union Balpa. “Airlines suffering insufficient staff can either give up market share to deal with the disruption by putting on fewer flights, or take [the business] and risk not being able to fulfil their flights.”
「這些選擇不值得羨慕,」飛行員工會Balpa的負責人馬丁•喬克說,「員工不足的航空公司要麼放棄市場份額、減少航班數量以應對中斷,要麼接下(生意),冒著無法完成航班的風險。」

A challenge to the network

航空網路面臨的挑戰

The recovery in the US is ahead of most of the rest of the world, as its strong internal market led flight schedules to reach more than 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by last summer.
美國航空業的復甦領先於世界其他大多數國家,其強勁的國內市場航班使航班數量在去年夏天就達到了疫情前80%以上的水準。
However, the experience in the US does not bode well, given that the industry has since suffered regular bouts of disruption as it struggled to respond to rising bookings. The number of cancelled flights hit record levels going into the 2021 holiday season, and airlines including Spirit, JetBlue and Alaska have said they will trim schedules for spring and summer to avoid further cancellations or delays.
然而,美國的情況並不是一個好兆頭,因爲自那以來,由於難以應對不斷上升的預訂量,該行業經常遭受間歇性的中斷。在2021年假日季節,被取消的航班數量達到了創紀錄水準,包括Spirit、JetBlue和Alaska在內的航空公司表示,它們將削減春季和夏季的航班安排,以避免進一步的取消或延誤。
The union representing American Airlines pilots has launched a lawsuit against the airline and claimed it “was clearly ill-prepared for the rebound in airline traffic” and will “no doubt” struggle with its summer schedule, especially after extreme weather events, because there are not enough pilots to handle such a full, tight schedule smoothly. American said it is fully prepared for summer travel.
代表美國航空飛行員的工會對該公司發起了訴訟,並聲稱該公司「顯然對航空運輸量的反彈準備不足」,並且「毫無疑問」將難以應對夏季時間表,特別是在極端天氣事件之後,因爲沒有足夠的飛行員來順利處理這樣一份滿負荷、緊張的時間表。美國航空稱其爲夏季出行做了充分準備。
“The whole [airline industry] infrastructure is not set up to snap back to these rapid growth rates,” said Scott Kirby, United Airlines chief executive, during an earnings call on Thursday.
美聯航(United Airlines)首席執行長斯科特•柯比(Scott Kirby)在週四的財報電話會議上表示:「整個(航空業)基礎設施尚未建立起來,無法迅速恢復滿足這些快速成長。」
“It’s not just us: it’s the [Federal Aviation Administration], the [Transportation Security Administration], fuel vendors . . . All of those constraints [can] get in the way of a reliable schedule.”
「不僅僅是我們:還有(美國聯邦航空管理局)、(美國運輸安全管理局)、燃料供應商……所有這些限制都可能阻礙可靠的航班安排。」
At Gatwick, where there has not been major disruption, the airport overnight went from handling 300 flights a day to 570 when the South Terminal reopened in late March.
在沒有出現嚴重中斷的蓋特威克機場,當3月底南航站樓重新開放時,機場的日吞吐量從300架次一夜之間增加到570架次。
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, has compared the logistical operation to trying to open a medium sized airport from scratch, and the airport has warned passengers to arrive early to avoid queues as thousands of people crammed back through the terminals.
蓋特威克機場的首席執行長斯圖爾特•溫蓋特(Stewart Wingate)將後勤運作比作試圖從零開始建設一個中型機場。該機場提醒乘客提前抵達,以免排隊,因爲成千上萬的人擠在候機樓裏。
Other parts of the industry have buckled. Passengers at Manchester airport have complained of five-hour long queues snaking out of the airport, while easyJet and British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights this month because of staff shortages exacerbated by a string of Covid infections among crew.
該行業的其他部分也受到了影響。曼徹斯特機場的乘客抱怨在機場外排隊長達5個小時,而易捷航空(easyJet)和英國航空(British Airways)本月取消了數百架次航班,原因是機組人員中出現的一系列新冠感染加劇了員工短缺。
In Dublin, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary has called for the army to be drafted in to help staff security at Dublin airport, while the queues in Sydney were headline news in Australia over Easter, when the city’s airport faced the busiest weekend in two years.
在都柏林,瑞安航空(Ryanair)首席執行長邁克爾•奧利裏(Michael O』leary)呼籲徵召軍隊來幫助都柏林機場的安保人員。與此同時,雪梨機場大排長隊成爲澳洲復活節期間的頭條新聞,當時該市機場面臨著兩年來最繁忙的週末。
Mindful that they will not be able to fulfil their advertised schedules, some airlines in Europe have this spring been trimming the number of flights to protect against last-minute disruption, including BA where one in 20 flights this year has been cancelled, according to Cirium data.
考慮到無法完成已經公佈的航班安排,歐洲一些航空公司今年春季一直在削減航班數量,以避免在最後一刻出現中斷。根據Cirium的數據,英國航空今年每20個航班中就有一個被取消。
“What we are seeing already emerging in Europe is some less aggressive scheduling, as airlines start to take flights out to try to avoid operational disruption running through the network,” says Rob Morris at Ascend by Cirium. “They are still pretty much on a knife edge, and it doesn’t take much disruption to cause the network to start to fall.”
「我們在歐洲已經看到了一些不那麼激進的安排,因爲航空公司開始取消航班,以避免整個航空網路的運營中斷,」Ascend by Cirium的羅布•莫里斯(Rob Morris)表示,「它們仍處於危急關頭,不需要太多的中斷就可以導致整個網路開始崩潰。」
In a sign of the rapid turnround in airlines’ fortunes, Morris says some airlines have even sharply increased ticket prices to try to damp demand.
莫里斯說,一些航空公司甚至大幅提高機票價格,以試圖抑制需求——表明航空公司的命運正在迅速轉圜。

Inside the hiring frenzy

大規模招聘背後

The pressure is particularly intense because as recently as the new year, many countries were still bringing in new travel restrictions and flight bans following the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant. But at the heart of the problem lies a simple lack of resources.
壓力特別大,因爲就在新年前夕,在高傳染性新冠病毒奧密克戎(Omicron)變體出現後,許多國家仍在實施新的旅行限制和飛行禁令。但問題的核心在於人力資源匱乏。
As a result of the pandemic, the industry slashed its headcount. There were 2.3mn fewer jobs in aviation by September 2021 compared with pre-Covid levels, according to research compiled by Oxford Economics. The figures include a 29 per cent fall in contracted staff working at airports, such as ground handlers, where 1.7mn jobs were lost.
疫情衝擊之下,航空業進行了大幅裁員。牛津經濟研究院(Oxford Economics)彙編的研究顯示,到2021年9月,航空業的工作崗位比新冠疫情前減少了230萬個。這些數據包括在機場工作的合約員工(如地勤人員)減少29%,導致170萬人失業。
Swissport, one of the world’s major ground handling companies, cut its workforce from 65,000 to 10,000 through a mix of staff cuts and furloughs in March 2020. By January this year, its staff was back up to 45,000 and the company is now working to rehire 17,000 new workers.
世界主要地勤公司之一Swissport在2020年3月透過裁員和強制休假的方式,將其員工隊伍從6.5萬人削減至1萬人。到今年1月,該公司的員工數量恢復到4.5萬人,目前正在重新招聘1.7萬名新員工。
Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, this month warned “resources are stretched” and said businesses around the airport needed to hire an extra 12,000 people to cope with demand in the coming summer.
英國最繁忙的希思羅機場(Heathrow)本月警告「人力資源緊張」,並表示機場周邊企業需要再招聘1.2萬人,以應對即將到來的夏季需求。
The situation has been worse 200 miles away, where the chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, Charlie Cornish, was forced to issue a public apology.
200英里外的曼徹斯特機場情況更糟,該機場集團的首席執行長查理·康尼什曾被迫公開道歉。
Cornish said the airport in the north of England had switched from “survival mode” as recently as January during the Omicron wave, to a “stunning recovery” in demand.
康尼什說,這個位於英格蘭北部的機場在今年1月的奧密克戎感染潮期間,已經從「生存模式」轉變爲需求的「驚人復甦」。
“The simple fact is that we don’t currently have the number of staff we need to provide the level of service that our passengers deserve,” he said.
他說:「一個簡單的事實是,我們目前沒有足夠數量的工作人員來提供乘客應該獲得的服務水準。」
While the industry is going through a frenzy of hiring, heightened security arrangements make it harder to get new recruits on to the frontline quickly enough. Many destinations also still require passengers to present Covid documents to be manually inspected at check-in.
儘管該行業正經歷一場招聘潮,但強化的安保安排讓新員工難以足夠快地進入一線崗位。許多目的地還仍然要求乘客在辦理登機手續時出示新冠相關文件供人工檢查。
Cornish has said Manchester airport currently has 200 staff going through background checks, while easyJet’s boss Johan Lundgren said last week that it had 100 staff awaiting clearance. That means anyone who can start immediately is hot property, and BA has offered prospective cabin crew a £1,000 sign-on bonus if they have already passed the necessary security checks.
康尼什表示,曼徹斯特機場目前有200名員工正在接受背景調查,而易捷航空的老闆約翰•倫德格倫上週表示該公司有100名員工在等待審覈批准。這意味著,任何可以立即開始工作的人都是炙手可熱的資產,英國航空向未來的空乘人員提供1000英鎊的簽約獎金,前提是他們已經透過了必要的安全檢查。
Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’​ Federation, a union, says the global chaos “is a direct result of bad decisions” by airlines and governments. He says governments should have extended more support, and industry cost-cutting had been “short-sighted”.
國際運輸工人聯合會祕書長Stephen Cotton說,全球混亂是航空公司和政府「錯誤決策的直接結果」。他說,政府應該提供更多支持,而行業削減成本的做法是「短視的」。
“We have lost over 2mn workers from the industry. And now it’s the workers who are left doing the jobs of two or three people and who are bearing the brunt of the frustration and anger of the passengers,” he says.
「該行業已經失去了200多萬工人。現在是剩下的工人一個人在做兩三個人的工作,他們還要承受乘客們的抱怨和憤怒。」他說。
The travel industry has denied cutting people too quickly, arguing that the uncertainty of two years ago meant that difficult decisions needed to be taken.
航空出行業否認裁員過快,稱兩年前的不確定性意味著當時需要做出艱難的決定。
“I would be reluctant to say that this is because of bad planning on the part of airlines and airports. I think to be fair to them they had little choice but to reduce their staffing at the height of the crisis,” says Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) and the former boss of BA.
國際航空運輸協會主席、英國航空前老闆威利•沃爾什說:「我不願意說這是因爲航空公司和機場的糟糕計劃。我認爲公平地說,在危機最嚴重的時候,他們別無選擇,只能裁員。」
Some industry executives and unions fear that aviation has become a less attractive career option in the current tight labour market, particularly given the antisocial hours and relatively poor pay.
一些行業高階主管和工會擔心,在目前緊張的勞動力市場上,航空業已成爲一個不那麼有吸引力的職業選擇,尤其是考慮到工作時間與社會脫節,薪酬也相對較低。
One baggage handler in Sydney says the volume of bags had become “overwhelming” at times, and his team was the busiest it had ever been. “People who have been working through the whole crisis are shocked and somewhat drained,” he said.
雪梨的一名行李搬運工表示,行李的數量有時會變得「難以承受」,他的團隊是有史以來最忙碌的。」他說:「在整個危機中一直工作的人都感到震驚,而且有些筋疲力盡。」
“Quite a few” colleagues were looking elsewhere for jobs with better pay and conditions, he adds.
他補充稱,「相當多的」同事正在其他地方尋找薪酬和條件更好的工作。
Marion Geoffroy, Wizz Air’s UK managing director, says it had “not been easy” to recruit, but that the company increased pay for UK cabin crew to help encourage new applicants. “I think the sector is becoming more attractive [again],” she says.
Wizz Air英國董事總經理馬利昂•傑弗裏(Marion Geoffroy)表示,招聘「不容易」,但該公司提高了英國空乘人員的薪酬,以幫助鼓勵新的求職者。她表示:「我認爲這個行業正(再次)變得更具吸引力。」

Return to profitability?

恢復盈利?

While delays and disruption cause frustration for returning passengers, they also illustrate a huge pent-up demand for flying that was barely imaginable during the pandemic’s bleakest moments.
雖然航班延誤和中斷會讓迴歸的乘客感到沮喪,但它們也證明了對飛行的被壓抑的巨大需求,這在疫情最嚴峻的時期是幾乎無法想像的。
EasyJet parked its fleet for 11 weeks during the spring of 2020, and Lundgren says he was just happy to be back dealing with operational issues, having made it through “survival” mode.
易捷航空在2020年春天將其機隊停飛了11周,而Lundgren稱其很高興在度過「生存」模式後能回來處理運營問題。
“The recovery is a great thing. I love having operational meetings right now, where we can talk about things like having too many customers in the system . . . Great, let’s sort it out,” he told an industry conference.
「復甦是一件好事。我喜歡現在召開運營會議,我們可以在會上討論諸如系統中有太多客戶之類的事情……很好,讓我們解決這個問題。」他在一次行業會議上說。
EasyJet will fly close to its pre-pandemic flight capacity this summer, while BA owner IAG plans to restore its full 2019 levels of flying across the north Atlantic routes between Europe and the US.
易捷航空今年夏天的飛行班次將接近疫情前水準,而英航的母公司國際航空集團(IAG)計劃將歐美之間北大西洋航線的航班數量恢復至2019年水準。
Wizz Air, the European low-cost carrier, is targeting flying 40 per cent more seats than in 2019 during the busiest summer months.
歐洲廉價航空公司Wizz Air的目標是在夏季最繁忙的幾個月比2019年增加40%的運力。
The recovery will help begin to repair the industry’s finances, which were decimated by the pandemic. Several airlines, including Norwegian and LatAm, filed for bankruptcy, while even the strongest carriers loaded up on debt to help them through the collapse in passenger numbers. Iata said last year that 40 per cent of the $269bn in government handouts to the companies had come in the form of debt that needed to be serviced and eventually repaid, and that the industry’s debt burden had grown by $220bn from 2019 to the end of 2020.
這輪復甦將有助於開始修復航空業因疫情而嚴重受損的財務狀況。包括挪威航空(Norwegian)和拉美航空(LatAm)在內的多家航空公司已申請破產,而即使是實力最強的航空公司也在增加舉債,以幫助它們度過乘客數量暴跌的難關。國際航空運輸協會去年表示,在政府向這些公司提供的2690億美元援助中,40%是以債務的形式提供的,這些債務需要付利息並最終償還,從2019年到2020年底,該行業的債務負擔增加了2200億美元。
Overall, the trade body forecasts the global industry will still lose $11bn this year given that passenger numbers will not fully recover, taking overall net losses between 2020 and 2022 to $200bn.
總體而言,該行業組織預測,鑑於乘客數量不會完全恢復,全球航空業今年仍將虧損110億美元,使2020年至2022年期間的淨虧損總額達到2000億美元。
While the three largest US carriers posted first-quarter losses, American, United, and Delta all expect a profitable second quarter, with United and Delta predicting profitability for the full year, despite spikes in fuel prices. United anticipates a record quarterly profit during the current three-month period.
雖然美國三大航空公司第一季度報告了虧損,但美國航空、美聯航和達美航空均預計第二季度將實現盈利。儘管燃油價格飆升,但美聯航和達美航空預計全年將實現盈利。美聯航預計第二季度的利潤將創歷史新高。
For many airlines in Europe, the ramp up into the peak summer season is set to mark a turning point between multibillion-euro losses and a return to profitability, regardless of the disruption.
對歐洲的許多航空公司來說,不管是否出現中斷,進入夏季高峯將標誌着從虧損數十億歐元到扭虧爲盈之間的一個轉折點。
“This is it, 2022 is the year [European] airlines get profitable again, especially short haul leisure carriers,” said Alex Irving, an aviation analyst at Bernstein.
伯恩斯坦(Bernstein)航空分析師亞歷克斯•歐文(Alex Irving)表示:「就是如此,2022年是(歐洲)航空公司重新盈利的一年,尤其是以短途休閒爲主航空公司。」
Ryanair’s O’Leary has said he is aiming for €1bn profit in the current financial year beginning in April, while in the US some airlines first returned to profit during a spike in demand last summer.
瑞安航空的奧利裏表示,他的目標是在自4月份開始的當前財年實現10億歐元的利潤,而在美國,一些航空公司在去年夏季需求激增期間首先實現了盈利。
The rebound has been driven by leisure trips and people visiting friends and family abroad, while the recovery in business travel has been slower. Still, this key profit engine for many companies has also shown signs of life. Delta said domestic corporate sales in March were 70 per cent of 2019 levels.
這一反彈是由休閒旅行和出國探親訪友推動的,商務旅行的復甦則較爲緩慢。不過,對許多航空公司來說,這一關鍵的利潤引擎也顯示出了復甦跡象。達美航空表示,3月份的國內企業銷售額達到了2019年水準的70%。
The travel industry’s recovery has come despite the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and soaring inflation, and some executives question whether the surge in leisure travel is here to stay, or a one-off release from two years of pandemic restrictions.
航空出行業在俄羅斯入侵烏克蘭和通膨飆升的背景下實現了復甦,一些高階主管質疑此輪休閒旅行激增是會持續下去,還是說只是兩年來疫情限制的一次性釋放。
“The return of demand is very welcome, though it is unclear whether the current surge in outbound leisure demand is sustainable,” Heathrow airport said this month.
希思羅機場本月表示:「需求的恢復非常值得歡迎,儘管不清楚目前的出境休閒需求激增是否可持續。」
Edmond Rose, a consultant and former airline executive, says travel had dipped during previous global slowdowns, leaving the outlook for the economy critical to the travel industry’s fortunes.
諮詢師、前航空公司高階主管埃德蒙•羅斯(Edmond Rose)表示,在前幾次全球經濟放緩期間,出行曾出現下滑,因此經濟前景對航空出行業的命運至關重要。
Some executives also privately question whether reports of nightmare delays could put people off booking summer travel, which would be an effective if unwelcome way to solve the overcapacity issues.
一些高階主管私下裏還質疑,有關噩夢般航班延誤的報導是否會讓人們放棄預訂夏季旅行的機票,這將是解決預訂過多問題的一種有效方法,儘管不受歡迎。
Bookings data shows there was a “relative slowdown” in ticket sales for flights leaving the UK in early April, coinciding with media reports of flight delays, says Olivier Ponti, an executive at aviation data company ForwardKeys.
航空數據公司ForwardKeys的高階主管奧利維爾•龐蒂(Olivier Ponti)表示,預訂數據顯示,4月初離開英國的機票銷售出現了「相對放緩」,與媒體報導有關航班延誤的時間相吻合。
“It is difficult to know if that slowdown was prompted by media reports or other factors,” he says, “or whether it’s just a temporary blip.”
「很難知道這種放緩是由媒體報導還是由其他因素引起的,」他說,「抑或只是暫時的波動。」
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