As Egypt falls further into political unrest, the fallout for airlines may be substantial. However the impact we’re seeing on airlines today may be just the beginning.
With the Egyptian government imposing a curfew from 6:00pm to 7:00am, as a result of riots and massive public anti-government demonstrations, EgyptAir has suspended its flights for twelve hours, from 9:00pm to 9:00am.
Along with EgyptAir suspending its flights, other airlines have been impacted, such as Delta Air Lines initially delaying its New York – Cairo flight by 11 hours, then canceling it and Air France diverting its flight already enroute to Cairo to Beirut. Air France initially intended to continue the flight to Cairo in the morning … however Air France may reevaluate that decision in the morning when it reassesses the risk of sending an aircraft into Cairo.
Presently many pre-dawn flights departing from Cairo to Europe are already canceled, and while the airport still shows many arrivals as “scheduled” the airlines flying those flights are increasingly canceling these flights.
The Egyptian government has complicated the logistics of travel having turns off mobile phone and internet access throughout the country. The lack of basic travel tools leaves travelers with the inability to check flight status, change flight information, check in for flights, make car and hotel arrangements as well as other logistical issues. The use of phones and the internet is no longer an optional tool for travelers, it is an expected necessity.
The severing of ties to the internet not only impacts passengers, but airlines as well. Airlines, like most international companies, rely on email communications. Severing access to the internet impacts a vital communications link to the multi-billion dollar travel industry that allows commerce to flow freely to and from Egypt.
The impediments to airline travel in Egypt are not equal throughout the country. The resort area airport of Sharm El-Sheikh, along the Red Sea, appears to be unaffected by the strife impacting Cairo’s airport.
Should the political unrest continue, as it seems it might, and reach the airport its self … Egypt might find itself cut off from not only an increasing number of commercial passenger flights, but vital cargo flights as well. Airplanes are expensive and easy targets for those seeking to make a political statement; given the option to remove all aircraft from an airport becomes an easy choice for airlines, when the alternative is potentially risking their planes.
I hope all ends peacefully in Egypt … but if things remain on course, the fallout for airlines will be significant financially. Airlines will need to reposition aircraft adjust their schedules to pick up stranded passengers, adjust alliance connection flights to deal with the on-going potential impact on EgyptAir and absorb the revenue loss of cargo from these flights.
The only question I have for today is this … how many private planes flew away from Cairo today?
As you read this blog post on your computer and check your email on your mobile phone from the comfort of your home, your hotel room, your airline lounge … take a moment to think about those fighting for their rights that have had their internet and phones shut off by those in power seeking to limit the information we take for granted every day.