AUSTRALIA’S aviation industry has been hit by a major wave of closures.
The number of commercial flights, the number of charter flights and the number flying for solo pilots are all in decline, as a result of a series of regulatory changes introduced in 2015.ABC’s Peter Walker has been speaking to industry insiders about the industry’s outlook.ABC News: How many flights will it take to meet demand in the next 12 months?
Peter Walker: That’s the question.
And I think you can understand that quite well, I think most people are aware of the changes that were made.
They’re a lot of work, they’re expensive and they take time.
And the result is that there are going to be a lot more people on the ground, because there are no flights left.
ABC’s Peter Wade: There are no planes left?
Peter: There’s no planes at all.
There’s only one flight left in the month of March, so there’s not going to go much further.
But we’re expecting there to be some flights, we’re talking about a small number.
It will probably be in the thousands.ABC: But will it mean there are fewer flights?
Peter W: It’s difficult to say, but we’re not going down that road any time soon.
And you know, we’ve got to have the confidence that there will be a future, there will continue to be flights in Australia.
But the question is, how many of those flights will there be?
ABC’s Pete Walker: It depends on the airline.
I think there’s a lot to be said for having a strong fleet and being able to do the sort of things you want to do, so we’re seeing some consolidation in the industry.ABCs Peter Wade and Peter Walker: Can you provide an example of consolidation?
Peter (on speakerphone): I think in the past there was a lot about consolidation, where there was some sort of a ‘one size fits all’ solution to things like fuel efficiency and fuel cost reduction, and I think that’s gone, and we’re starting to see some different approaches that will look at how they can work in a more flexible way.
That’s what we’re looking at.
The thing is that that has meant, for example, that some aircraft carriers are starting to be less competitive, and it’s not just in the airline industry.
There are some smaller operators, which have had to cut their operating costs in order to make up for those costs.
That means you’re not only losing money on a product, you’re also losing money to the environment.ABC Radio National: What will be the impact on the industry in the short term?
Peter Wade: In the short run, the impacts will be minimal, in that we’ll continue to see a lot less flights, a lot fewer passengers, fewer people flying, and hopefully that will bring some jobs back to Australia, so that’s a positive.
ABC Radio National’s Peter W: Can we ask what impact is the closure of the A380 due to the COVID-19 pandemic having on the aviation industry?
Peter Watson: Well, the A330 and the A320, the ones that are the most expensive are going up in price, but that’s because the carriers are cutting back on their aircraft.
The A380, for the most part, is going up.
There will be no A380 at all for the foreseeable future, and that’s one of the things we’re hoping will happen, is that you’re going to see the price of a plane going up and the airline’s going to have to pay for the additional fuel.
That will create jobs, and the aircraft will be more reliable.ABC radio: But what about the A340, which is a much cheaper aircraft?
PeterW: The A340 is going to continue to have a great life, and will continue its success.
It’s not really a cost factor for the airlines.
There is a lot that’s been saved through cost reductions, but the fact is that the airlines are going through a tough time, they’ve had to reduce costs to survive.
They’ve had their revenues go down, they can’t afford to keep paying pilots, and they’ve also had to have more people fly.
So it’s really important that they keep going, but they have to cut costs.
ABC radio: What are the economic implications of a loss of business in Australia’s aviation sector?
PeterWalker: The economics of the aviation sector are going completely to hell, but in the last few years there has been a very big fall in passenger numbers in the country, and those are people who are trying to get around the system.
So we’re also seeing a very significant fall in the number and size of aircraft flying around the country.
It was a little bit like that in the late 2000s.
But now, for a lot longer,