Although the aviation industry – airlines in particular – has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the steps that companies across the globe are taking to alleviate the damage and lay the groundwork for recovery are truly admirable. From virtual trade shows to extensive webinar series, video interview shorts to online networking solutions: planes may be grounded but the industry is spreading its wings as it continues to battle the COVID-19 storm.

Earlier this month, Inmarsat Aviation announced FLIGHTPLAN, a one-day, online broadcast event bringing together aviation experts, analysts and leaders to share information, insight and direction at this pivotal moment for the industry. In collaboration with APEX, FLIGHTPLAN is “shaped by our industry, for our industry” and “will focus not only on the current crisis, but will also look to how we equip ourselves and innovate to improve resilience and accelerate recovery”.

Alongside one-day events, one-hour webinars such as the State of Play series produced by the World Aviation Festival are gaining in both popularity and leverage. WAF’s webinar series comprised three broadcasts, each with a different regional focus and each reporting on the health of the industry in that specific region. Given the quality of the speakers recruited and the fact that audience interaction is actively encouraged, webinars like these are a very effective way of keeping industry conversation, discussion and debate alive. They provide the opportunity to push through the sensationalism and fear propagated by the mass media in order to explore the situations and issues that don’t tend to make the headlines.

John Strickland of JLS Consulting, who led WAF’s Europe webinar, spoke about the “delicate balance” between an airline’s need to cut staff costs as much as possible, something that isn’t easy when it must both retain a workforce capable of maintaining a grounded fleet and preserve its pilots’ currency.

Inspired by the industry’s stoicism and willingness to innovate in the face of such a challenging situation, here at Inflight we are joining and launching a range of new initiatives. Inflight’s Editor, Alexander Preston, will be speaking as part of FLIGHTPLAN; The editorial team at HMG Aerospace [publisher of Inflight] will be producing a series of video interview shorts in which key aviation executives will answer a series of quick-fire questions; and its marketing team are boosting social media engagement with a daily Twitter question designed to get you thinking and celebrate the industry’s historic and continuing ability to think outside of the box. Did you know, for example, that in 1987 American Airlines saved $40,000 dollars by removing a single olive from each salad served in First Class?

As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes the virtual world ever closer to becoming the main way in which we interact in the real world, the aviation industry keeps pace. With social media channelling encouragement through unifying hashtags such as #WeAreAviation and #WeWillFlyAgain, Inflight and HMG Aerospace salute and strive, as always, to support the industry: staying apart, but staying connected.

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