New planes, routes and cabins taking off in 2023

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(CNN) – The past 12 months have been filled with many global issues affecting the aviation industry, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting flight bans, the lifting of most travel restrictions, the end of China’s inbound quarantine, the delivery of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft It was an unexpected time. , and more questions about the future of the two new versions of the 737 MAX.

The year ahead looks more promising, although uncertainty is still great.

IATA, the trade association for most airlines around the world, expects airlines to return to profitability in 2023 after a loss in 2022, mainly as a result of Covid-19 shutdowns but also due to rising fuel prices.

Long-awaited new planes could also take to the skies, helping usher in the next era of commercial aviation.

Risks still remain. Wars, global and regional recessions, Covid resurgence, changed travel patterns, climate crisis and many other factors are beyond aviation’s control.

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

Remap the sky

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

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images/FILE

Covid-19 has marked the last three years of all our lives and will continue to do so – but for the most part it will not include travel restrictions.

When Japan opens its doors to foreign travelers in the fall of 2022, it will be the last major economy outside of China to do so.

In many ways that matter to airlines and their passengers, the world is now open. Almost everywhere — when China’s quarantine and other travel restrictions will end — has finally been answered. The country announced the easing of travel restrictions from January 8.

Another big question is Russia. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Russian airlines were banned from entering the airspace of many countries, including the EU, the US and Canada, and vice versa.

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

What this means is that there are fewer flights between Europe and Asia, and there are quite a few European and Asian airlines with aircraft they plan to use on these routes and are now looking for somewhere else to fly them.

New routes between North America and Europe are already taking off, with the big three transatlantic joint airline cartels — roughly equivalent to the Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliances and allowed to coordinate prices among their members — adding more. new routes and strengthening of existing services.

So if you see a new non-stop flight opening up, it might be worth taking a chance. If European airlines regain access to Russian airspace and demand to and from China returns, new non-stop flights may require stops again.

Speaking of alliances, Virgin Atlantic is expected to join part-owner Delta in the SkyTeam alliance in early 2023, while China Southern (by some estimates the world’s largest airline) has long been rumored to join the Oneworld alliance. it seems has been gaining some traction recently. This will open up some new connections for those airline 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

COMAC C919, China’s first modern narrow-body aircraft, is expected to enter passenger service from 2022 to 2023. The new plane, which appears to be a big challenge for Western manufacturers, will give passengers in China a new choice. Experience on Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.

There are no other new aircraft on the horizon for 2023. Boeing’s long-delayed 777X widebody isn’t expected to begin deliveries until 2025 at the earliest, and that’s before test flights were suspended in early December because of trouble at General Electric. GE9X engines.

There will be a greater supply of current-generation aircraft, including the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, which means newer jets to fly, but also some older aircraft being kept in the fleet longer.

The Airbus A321XLR aircraft is expected to enter service by 2024.

The Airbus A321XLR aircraft is expected to enter service by 2024.

Axel Heimken/AFP/Getty Images

On the Airbus side, the extra-long-range A321XLR narrowbody is scheduled to arrive with airlines in early 2024, although the good news for Airbus is that the US Federal Aviation Administration approved the design of the extra fuel tank on December 8.

This means new non-stop flights between smaller airports, especially transatlantic routes, will be announced in 2023 — worth keeping an eye out for and booking early.

We may see new aircraft variants announced. Airbus is making positive noises about the much-rumored extension of its small narrow-body A220 jet, popular with passengers thanks to its wide seats, large bins and large windows.

New planes come with new cabins as they come from the factory, such as Airbus’ larger Airspace cabin with larger boxes and streamlined aesthetics.

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

“The number of Airspace cabin-equipped aircraft entering the market means that more and more passengers will benefit from comfort features as well as connectivity,” Airbus vice president of cabin marketing Ingo Wuggetzer told CNN. “That’s the key for me in 2023 — bringing these innovations to a growing number of passengers around the world.”

Also, he expects, “we will see a wave of digitalization in the day-to-day operations of airlines.” Digitalization is good for passengers: more connected airlines offer more information and more self-service options, which avoid lines at the airport or long waits on the phone.

Ways of return

The Airbus A380 superjumbo will return to service for Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways in 2023.

The Airbus A380 superjumbo is returning to service for Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways in 2023.

Nicolas 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 A380s, which means more spacious seats on this big, quiet plane. Great news for passengers.

Two variants of Boeing’s 737 MAX plane, the shorter MAX 7 and the double-stretch MAX 10, are currently in certification limbo nearing the end of the year.

To sum up the complicated situation, US regulators want Boeing to install additional safety systems. That would be costly for Boeing, not least because it has contractually promised some airlines that it doesn’t need to do so in order to avoid spending time and money training pilots on the differences.

This will not have any short-term impact on passengers, but the airlines’ long-term plans to use these planes to replace old ones and start new routes may be delayed.

Safety and durability

    A traveler walks past the newly opened TSA Pre-check application center at LaGuardia Airport Terminal C on January 27, 2014 in New York City.

Coming soon: No more pulling out laptops or liquids.

John Moore/Getty Images

At the airport, 2023 will be the year some airports get rid of the “liquid ban,” where anything on the liquid-to-paste-to-cream-to-gel spectrum can only be carried in small zip-lock containers in 3-ounce or 100-milliliter containers. plastic bag.

Fliers may already be experimenting with early versions of scanners that allow you to put your liquid bag and electronics in your carry-on, but these are becoming more widespread. The UK is expected to introduce them at airports in 2023.

Also watch out for more sustainability claims about flights as the climate crisis grows in importance.

One aspect of this is the rise of more sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) from various sources: waste oils, vegetable oils, algae, etc. Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is testing the first transatlantic carbon “net zero” flight in 2023, supported by the SAF, following similar projects by other airlines.

On the other hand, it makes the interiors of the cabins, which are mainly made of metal, plastic and fabrics, more durable.

We spoke to cabin designer Martin Darbyshire of tangerine, the design agency responsible for many of the most innovative cabins of recent times, who emphasized that “as designers, we have a responsibility to remove complexity, weight and cost, deliver greater longevity and more. The airline interior industry repairable and recyclable solutions for. Our customers demand it, and we owe it to the community to make it happen.”

Indeed, he says, “it’s surprising that it’s taken all this time to gather momentum. There’s no doubt that environmental, social and corporate governance will dominate beyond 2023.”

Top photo: China’s new COMAC C919 passenger plane. Credit: CNS/AFP via Getty Images

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