After a challenging couple of years for the aviator sector, Bayram Annakov, founder & CEO of App in the Air, shares his predictions for the coming year.
“The world, our ability to cross borders and, by association, the travel and aviation industries, have been dramatically – and permanently – changed by the pandemic. With testing, vaccination certificates, digital health passports and hygiene measures now an unavoidable part of our lives, the relatively simple act of moving through the airport and getting on a plane has become a minefield of complexity for the average traveller.
“Technological developments in each of these areas will be key to our sector’s survival, and the airline industry is being extremely proactive in driving innovations to address the challenges that come with managing mass movement in a pandemic. In 2022 this will certainly continue, and we can expect to see progression in the ways that different countries, airports and airlines monitor vaccination statuses and health passports, as well as the more traditional visas and identification checks.
Pandemic Specific Tools
“As App In The Air exists to simplify the travelling process and to help our users navigate every element of their journey, mitigating the challenges of travelling in the pandemic and nimbly responding to the near constant changes have been our team’s primary focus since COVID-19 appeared in the world’s consciousness.
“We have pivoted and now offer a number of pandemic-related travel tools to help our six million users worldwide, including our latest innovation, a digital health passport. And yet there is not a global standard for health accreditation. As long as countries refuse to share data, the finding of a worldwide solution will be dramatically slowed – I would estimate that we are probably five to seven years off making that happen, which may be too late to benefit this particular pandemic. The airline industry will be among the first to tackle the problem of worldwide health accreditation and it may lead to other innovations that will change the way we all travel – with particular focus on trying to simplify things for travellers themselves.
“Vaccine equity is also going to be key to our sector’s survival, and I see the airline industry being one of the first to drive innovation in these spaces. Until we have a fair distribution of vaccines throughout the world, travel cannot fully reopen. It’s heartening to see travel brands across the world getting behind a united vaccine equity drive. We have launched our app’s new digital health passport feature with an ‘Upload a Vax, Give a Vax’ campaign, plus a donation of $25,000 USD to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment, which helps to ensure the most vulnerable in low-income countries can be protected with vaccines, to ensure that we’re doing our bit towards this effort.
“The environmental implications of travel and aviation will continue to be at the fore this year, and rightly so. ‘Flygskam’, which literally translates as “flight shame”, is increasingly prevalent and while the most sustainable choice is simply not to fly that’s just not possible or practical in most situations. As someone who travels regularly by plane, I am very much focused on how I and our userbase of six million frequent flyers can all become “Carbon Neutral Travellers” instead.
“Technology has a massive role to play and there are great tools which take the heavy lifting out of offsetting travel emissions. The easier we make it, the more likely travellers will be to offset. For example, we plant a tree for every flight booked through the app, as well as allowing users to filter flight searches by carbon emissions, so they can choose the least polluting option. We also calculate the carbon footprint of our users to help them understand their personal impact; with that awareness can come the necessary step change. We also remove the heavy lifting of offsetting, which our users can do directly through the app, making it as easy as possible for our users to do the right thing when they travel.”