As we are all patiently waiting to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus here in the UK, there are signs of a more positive vibe when taking to people, particularly within the aviation industry. While some may be overly optimistic as to when a ‘new normal’ returns, at least now we know it will.
For those that work within the commercial aviation industry it has been a tough time, with many pilots, cabin crew and airport service workers having to find alternative work and income far removed from their previous careers. Their stories are inspiring and no doubt prove that there’s a common thread that all these people share; that none are sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves.
An example of the strength of character of cabin crew can be demonstrated by Filipino Maurice Maureen Avila, who lost her flight attendant role during the pandemic and has now turned her hand to selling liquefied petroleum gas tanks to her neighbours. With some help from her family, she franchised her business and started delivering the gas tanks on a trolley.
“So instead of my usual trolley as a flight attendant, I started pulling trolleys with gas,” laughs Maurice.
Pilots have also been hit hard by the pandemic as well. Joe Townshend, one of the youngest qualified Captains at Thomas Cook Airlines, lost his job when Thomas Cook Airlines collapsed in 2019. No problem, soon afterwards, he joined Titan Airways. Unfortunately, this was in January 2020, just two months before the COVID-19 crisis struck.
“I remember thinking I can’t believe that this is happening again after such a short period. It had been three months and I was really excited to start a new job. I just couldn’t believe that in such a short time space I would have to look for a new job again. And this time it wasn’t just one company but the whole aviation industry was affected,” Townshend said.
After losing his pilot’s position, Joe still needed to provide for his family. Since the possibility to get back to the cockpit had been significantly curtailed by the travel restrictions, he took a job delivering shopping for a supermarket in the UK.
“I was grateful to have that job and some income.”
However, the former Captain started to look for wider horizons. Alongside the new job as a delivery person, Joe decided to set up his own business in the coffee industry. After nine months of preparation work, he launched his coffee roastery called ‘Altitude Coffee London’ and immediately attracted customers’ attention.
“It was something I had always dreamed of doing for several years and, in the situation when I had no job, I figured why not give myself a try. I spent last year building physical premises and building the brand. Now we are selling to our customers, which has been fantastic. We’ve had a very good response so far, with lots of orders and lots of positive reviews for our products. So, I’m really happy. It’s a fantastic experience,” said Townshend.
We all know the impact that COVID-19 has had on the airline industry and the people within it. I hope that those who loved working within the industry will all be able to return to their ‘dream’ jobs when passengers are allowed back and confidence returns. As many who have found themselves in similar situations to Maurice and Joe, it’s all been character building, and that can only be a benefit to passengers when we next see them in the cabin when all this is over.