These are the top tweeted terms trending in airline industry discussions happening on Twitter, by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the GlobalData platform.

1. Aircraft – 642 mentions

Commotion regarding use of masks onboard a flight and airlines planning to revamp their aircraft models after the coronavirus pandemic were widely discussed in Q3. According to an article shared by Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, s easyJet, a British airliner, objected to passengers not wearing masks on a France bound flight. The airline was only allowing passengers to wear disposable or surgical-type masks. The government of France passed a law authorising all air passengers aged above 11 travelling to and from the country to wear only disposable masks, the article highlighted.

Aircraft also trended in discussions shared by Aviation Week, an aviation news portal, about commercial airlines’ strategy to restructure air travel to make a quick recovery after Covid-19. The airlines are expected to use smaller aircraft such as Airbus A220 to minimise financial risks. Airbus already received hundreds of orders for smaller aircraft. Embraer’s E2 aircraft is also expected to play a key role in accelerating the recovery of the airline industry, as airlines plan to replace older aircraft, the article noted.

 2. Aviation – 609 mentions

The completion of a decade of the US airlines safety act, the future of aviation and EUROCONTROL’s plan to make aviation environmentally friendly were some popular topics discussed during the quarter. Sully Sullenberger, a pilot and safety advocate, shared an article about the tenth Anniversary of the US Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Act of 2010 being ratified. The law was implemented to improve regional airline safety after the crash of Flight 3407 in February 2009, resulting in 50 fatalities. The only clause of the law yet to be executed is building an all-inclusive electronic pilot record database, which will enable airlines to streamline the hiring procedure, the article highlighted.

Karlene Petit, a pilot, further shared an article about views expressed by Jim Bridenstine, a NASA administrator and former pilot, on the future of the aviation industry. Bridenstine noted that commercial airline companies will need to drastically reduce their emissions through innovative designs in aircraft and using efficient engines. He also discussed the challenges associated with incorporating pilotless airplanes into controlled airspace. The automated aircraft is much more efficient and safer than the manned one, the article noted.

Another discussion surrounding aviation was shared by Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL, the organisation for air safety, about the group’s aim to reduce aircraft carbon emissions. EUROCONTROL aims to assure Green Deal, a policy initiative of European Commission to make the continent climate conducive by 2050. Brennan noted that CO2 emissions are directly proportional to aviation traffic.

 3. Covid-19 – 405 mentions

Job losses due to Covid-19 at NAV Canada, United Airlines plans to furlough thousands of pilots and Covid-19 testing for air passengers in China were widely discussed topics in Q3 2020. According to an article shared by Howard Slutsken, an aviation writer, NAV CANADA, an air navigation service provider, retrenched 720 workers as part of cost containment policy in view of the ongoing pandemic. The company has also taken various measures to curtail cash outflows including slashing of management salaries and deferral of retroactive wage hikes, the article highlighted.

Further, Brian Sumers, an airline and travel expert, tweeted about United Airlines, an American airliner, cautioning its pilots about furloughing more workers than actually intended. United originally planned to furlough approximately 2,250 pilots from October to end of year but now plans to send an additional 1,650 pilots on a leave of absence in 2021. The airliner took the step due to stalled bookings and the escalation of Covid-19 cases, the article noted.

Other discussions surrounding Covid-19 included China seeking negative coronavirus test report from air travellers entering the country, according to an article shared by Jamie Freed, an aviation and defence correspondent at Reuters. The Chinese civil aviation authorities declared that passengers must submit the results of the nucleic acid test five days prior to alighting a flight to China, the article highlighted.

4. Airport – 392 mentions

A UK airport restarting services, Germany launching rapid tests at airports and pilots expressing safety concerns at upcoming Berlin airport were popularly discussed in the third quarter of the year. Simon Calder, a travel news advisor, shared an article about London City airport resuming services. The airport closed in March and has commenced operations with flights predominantly leaving for Italy and Spain on the first day. The airport reopened plane services at the same time when the mandatory quarantine rule for air travellers from major European countries was lifted, the article highlighted.

Dominic Gates, aerospace reporter at Seattle Times, further, shared an article about Covid-19 tests being offered to air passengers arriving in or returning to the country at Munich, Frankfurt and other airports. The tests will be used to determine if passengers have acute coronavirus infection through a RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Test), the article noted.

Airport was also discussed in an article shared by Ben Schlapping, an airline and travel blogger, about the safety concerns raised by pilots while taking off from the Berlin Brandenburg Airport. The pilots raised concerns regarding the turn needed to be made immediately after leaving ground, which could waver their focus and increase flying complexity. The turn could also induce vomiting in passengers who have a fear of flying. Aviation authorities, however, have approved the take-off process despite the reservations expressed by pilots, the article highlighted.

5. Fleet – 379 mentions

Qatar Airways withholding revival of superjumbo jet fleet, Lufthansa’ plans to decrease fleet investment by 50% and Air New Zealand’s Boeing fleet being grounded were widely discussed in the quarter. According to an article shared by Max Kingsley-Jones, an aviation enthusiast, Qatar Airways reiterated its plan to refrain from renewing Airbus A380 fleet until there is sufficient demand. The company’s A380 aircraft fleet continues to remain grounded since March, owing to the ongoing pandemic. The smaller aircraft such as Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 are more environmentally friendly and also appropriate for flying considering the existing global scenario, the article highlighted.

Further, Andreas Spaeth, an international aviation journalist, tweeted about the German airline Lufthansa phasing out aircraft and reducing fleet investments. The company confirmed that it will purchase only 80 new airliners in the next three years, drastically cutting the funding for its fleet. Lufthansa already dropped 22 aircraft from its fleet including A380s, A320s and Boeing 747s.

Another discussion related to fleet was shared by AVIATOR, a commercial airline news publisher, about Air New Zealand’s decision to ground its Boeing 777 fleet until September 2021. The company grounded most of its 777-300 aircraft in May until end of year, due to the adverse effect of the coronavirus outbreak. Air New Zealand also indicated that its 777-200 aircraft will not leave the ground in the near future. Majority of the grounded aircraft will be stored at long-term storage centres located in California, New Mexico and Victorville, the article highlighted.