January 27, 2023

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New planes, tracks and cabins take off in 2023

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(CNN) – The past 12 months have been an unpredictable time for airlines, with many global problems affecting the aviation industry, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine which led to the overflight ban, the removal of most travel restrictions, and the termination of China. internal quarantineBoeing is catching up with its 737 Max delivery, and more questions are raised about the future of two new versions of the 737 Max.

Next year looks even more promising, though the uncertainty remains huge.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the trade association for most airlines worldwide, expects airlines to return to profitability in 2023 after losing 2022, mostly as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown, but also because of higher fuel prices.

The long-awaited new aircraft could also take to the skies, helping usher in a new era of commercial aviation.

However, the risks remain. Wars, global and regional recessions, the resurgence of Covid, changing travel patterns, the climate crisis, and many other factors beyond aviation’s control.

Here’s what it all means for travelers in 2023.

Redraw the sky map

Virgin Atlantic is expected to join the SkyTeam alliance in 2023.

Nicholas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images/File

Covid-19 marked the last three years of our lives, and will continue to do so – but in most cases, that won’t include travel restrictions.

When Japan opened its doors to foreign travelers in the fall of 2022, it was the last large non-Chinese economy to do so.

In most respects that matter to airlines and their passengers, the world is now open. The big question just about everywhere — when will the Chinese quarantine and other travel restrictions end — has finally been answered. announced the country easing travel restrictions From January 8th.

Another big question is Russia. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Russian airlines were banned from the airspace of many countries, including the European Union, the United States and Canada, and vice versa.

Outside of the conflict zone, the biggest impact of this has been flights between Europe and East Asia, which must fly either south of the conflict zone and over the Caucasus or north over Alaska. As a result, many European and Asian airlines cut their services.

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What this means is that there are fewer flights between Europe and Asia, a lot of European and Asian airlines have planes they were planning to use on those routes, and now they’re looking to see where else they can fly.

New routes between North America and Europe have already begun to fly, with the big three transatlantic airline consortia – roughly aligned with Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliances, allowed to coordinate fares between their members – adding many new routes and enhancing existing services.

So if you see a new nonstop ride open, it might be worth jumping on the opportunity. If European airlines regain access to Russian airspace and request a stopover to and from China, the new nonstop flights could revert to a stopover request.

While we are talking about alliances, Virgin Atlantic is expected to join its part-owner Delta in the SkyTeam alliance as early as 2023, while the old rumor seems to be that China Southern (by some stats the largest airline in the world) will join the Oneworld alliance. Gaining some momentum recently. This will open up some new connections for those airlines’ partners — and their passengers.

One new plane, but many new cabins

New COMAC C919 delivered to China Eastern Airlines.

New COMAC C919 delivered to China Eastern Airlines.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

The COMAC C919, China’s first modern narrow-body airliner, is expected to enter passenger service with the 2022 model year by 2023. The new aircraft, seen as a major challenge for Western manufacturers, will give passengers in China a new choice, although It’s not that different from the experience on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.

There are no other new planes on the horizon for 2023. Deliveries of the much-delayed Boeing 777X widebody are not expected to begin until 2025 at the earliest, before test flights were suspended in early December due to a problem with General Electric. GE9X engines.

There will be more shipments of current generation aircraft, including the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, which means more newer aircraft to fly, but also some older aircraft staying in the fleet longer.

On the Airbus side, the ultra-long-range A321XLR narrow-body is set to arrive with airlines in early 2024, although the good news for Airbus is that on December 8 the US Federal Aviation Administration approved its auxiliary fuel tank design.

That means those new nonstop flights between smaller airports, particularly transatlantic routes, will be announced in 2023—it’s worth keeping an eye on and booking quickly.

We may see new aircraft variants announced. Airbus is buzzing about the much-rumored stretch of its A220 small, narrow-body jet, which is popular with passengers thanks to its spacious seats, large trunks and large windows.

As new aircraft arrive from the factory, they bring new cabins, such as Airbus’ most spacious aerospace cabin with its large trunks and streamlined aesthetics.

Airbus has designed its latest cabin to provide more comfort to passengers.

“The increasing number of aircraft equipped with airspace cabins entering the market means that more and more passengers will take advantage of comfort features in addition to connectivity,” Airbus Vice President of Cabin Marketing Ingo Wuggetzer told CNN. “That’s key for me in 2023 – it’s about bringing these innovations to an increasing number of passengers around the world.”

As he predicts, “we’re going to see a digital wave in airlines’ day-to-day business.” Digitization is good for passengers: A more connected airline offers more information and more self-service options, helping to avoid airport lines or long waits on the phone.

return paths

The Airbus A380 superjumbo will return to service with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi in 2023.

The Airbus A380 superjumbo will return to service with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi in 2023.

Nicholas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The giant (and hugely popular) Airbus A380 superjumbo is back in service. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is the latest airline to bring back its A380, which means more and wider seats in economy on this large, quiet aircraft. It’s great news for commuters.

Two variants of the Boeing 737 MAX, the shorter MAX 7 and the twin-span MAX 10, are currently in limbo as a year-end deadline approaches.

To sum up a complex situation, US regulators want Boeing to install additional safety systems. That would be costly for Boeing, not least because it has promised some airlines it won’t need to do this to avoid having to spend time and money training pilots in the differences.

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This likely won’t have any short-term impact on passengers, but the airlines’ long-term plans to use these planes to replace aging planes and start new routes may be delayed.

Security and sustainability

    A passenger walks through the newly opened TSA Pre-Order Application Center in Terminal C of LaGuardia Airport on January 27, 2014 in New York City.

Coming Soon: No more removing laptops or liquids.

John Moore/Getty Images

At the airport, 2023 will be the year some airports get rid of their “liquid ban,” whereby anything on the liquid-cream-gel putty spectrum can only be carried in 3 ounces or 100 milliliters inside a small zip-lock plastic bag.

Fliers may have already experimented with early versions of scanners that let you leave your liquid and electronics in your carry-on bag, but they’re being rolled out on a much larger scale. The UK is expected to offer these services via airports in 2023.

Also, keep an eye out for more sustainability claims about flights, as the climate crisis becomes more important.

One aspect of this is the growth in more sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) made from a variety of sources: waste oils, vegetable oils, algae, and so on. Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is testing its first “net zero” transatlantic flight operated by SAF in 2023, following similar projects by other airlines.

The other side is to make the interiors of the cabins, which are largely made up of metals, plastics and fabrics, more sustainable.

We spoke to cabin designer Martin Darbyshire of Tangerine, the design agency responsible for many of the most innovative cabins of recent times, who highlighted, “As designers, we have a responsibility to remove complexity, weight and cost, and to offer longer lasting and more salvageable and recyclable solutions.” to the airline interiors industry. Our clients demand it and we owe it to the community to make it happen.”

In fact, he says, “It’s surprising that it took this long to gain momentum. Without a doubt, ESG will dominate 2023 and beyond.”

Top photo: COMAC C919 new Chinese passenger airliner. Credit: CNS/AFP via Getty Images