The Omicron variant is still being examined in order to determine how it compares to earlier variants like the Delta variant we saw last year. Omicron has already had a huge impact on travel, with flight bans, travelers testing positive on arrival, passengers breaking quarantine, etc.
Flight cancellations due to pilot shortages were a big problem during the 2021 holiday season.
One of the big challenges airlines and passengers will both face in 2022 is managing vaccination certification, especially when it comes to defining what “vaccinated” means when taking boosters into account.
For example, will travelers who’ve received a single dose vaccine continue to be counted as fully vaccinated in the coming months? And what about those who’ve had two of the two-dose vaccines, but haven’t received a booster?
Will the rules differ for tourists who’ve recovered from coronavirus and received one standard vaccination, as is customary in countries such as Germany.
There have been some discussions about using a digital QR-based standard (possibly the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate), but that’s going to need a lot of work and negotiation.
2. New airlines
Norse Atlantic Airways is launching long-haul low-cost flights between Europe and North America. This is the same team who ran Norwegian and are planning to use the same Boeing 787 Dreamliners the airline used.
In the US, Northern Pacific Airways is set to launch in 2022 with the goal of making Anchorage’s Ted Stevens airport a hub connecting the United States and Asia using a fleet of Boeing 757-200 jets.
Ultra-low-cost startup Akasa Air is launching in the summer
Jet Airways is trying to restart in early 2022.
Avelo Airlines has been expanding by recently adding New Haven Connecticut winter flights to six Florida destinations.
Breeze Airways continues to grow its network across the east, midwest, and south of the United States, with a wide point-to-point network spanning San Antonio and Oklahoma City to Providence along with routes from Tampa to Akron/Canton and Tulsa. Breeze is also set to start using new Airbus A220 airplanes in the second quarter of 2022.
United Airlines is expanding its transatlantic network in summer 2022, adding new flights to Bergen Norway, the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca, the Canary island of Tenerife, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, and Amman in Jordan.
They’re also adding extra flights to London from Boston, Newark, Denver, and San Francisco, as well as adding additional services to Munich, Milan, Berlin, Dublin, and Rome from its hubs.
3. Updated airports
LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal C, home to Delta Air Lines, is set to open in the spring.
The new Terminal A (previously called Terminal One) will launch at Newark, just across the river from Manhattan, later in the year.
Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport is set to open its new Satellite Terminal 1 in October
Chennai International Airport is due to open its own new terminal, which will replace the now-demolished terminals 2 and 3 sometime later this year
Australia’s Gold Coast Airport has a new three-level terminal expansion due for completion this year
The Maldives’ Velana International Airport is adding a new seaplane terminal and a new runway to accommodate larger aircraft.
4. New planes
The Airbus A350, A330neo, Boeing 737 Max, and 787 Dreamliner planes will be rolling out of the factories this year.
Airbus has been moving forward with deliveries despite the pandemic, and they plan to build even more of the popular A320neo family of jets, especially the longer A321neos that can hold up to 244 passengers in an all-economy layout.
Boeing has had a huge Max backlog after its safety grounding and Dreamliner deliveries have been halted for more than a year because of production quality problems. Both of these issues should resolve and the airlines are likely to put these new aircraft directly into service as soon as they get them.
Singapore Airlines is putting its stored and newly built 737 Max 8 planes into service with a brand new cabin configuration
Passengers are likely to see more aircraft like the Airbus A321 long-range version in 2022. An increasing amount of these planes are being produced, which means more flights straight to a central destination rather than connecting through a hub.
5. Updated seats & cabins
Newer planes with updated seats, newer entertainment systems, at-seat power, and faster Wi-Fi are currently in progress will be arriving in 2022
For those flying business class, this will mean more mini-suites with privacy doors and all the bells and whistles
More and more planes are finally being equipped with premium economy sections. Emirates is the latest airline to add the middle-cabin, announcing an upcoming 18-month program to install premium economy seats in a total of 105 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 airplanes.
Economy cabins will also be getting some technology upgrades in the form of fast-charging USB-C ports, and inflight entertainment systems that integrate with phone apps, allowing passengers to use Bluetooth headphones.
Additional updates to be on the lookout for include space-saving seats that move the support structures out of the way of legs so that passengers feel like they have a bit more space
With a lot of older planes being retired during the pandemic, passengers are actually more likely than ever to get to fly on a newer plane in 2022