Aircraft leads as Airport Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on airlines in Q1 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform. The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Aircraft – 774 mentions

Grounding, parking, and storage of entire aircraft fleets due to the global coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments, aircraft cabin woes, and jet aircraft requiring fuel to maintain altitude, were popularly discussed in Q1 2020. For example, an article shared by Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, describes how airlines including Etihad, Airways, Emirates, FlyDubai, and Air Arabia, have all suspended their passenger flights, ground entire aircraft fleets as per new government directives.

Benjamin Bearup, a contributing editor for the Airways Magazine, shared an article detailing how dozens of Delta aircraft were on storage in the Atlanta airport. The influencer added that more than 600 planes were being grounded due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In other news, Karlene Petitt, an airline pilot discusses the importance of fuel for all jet aircraft to maintain altitude. At the same time, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, tweeted on the realities in the aircraft cabin. She stated that airline workers, especially at smaller regional carriers, are struggling to get by even as airlines report multibillion-dollar profits.

2. Aviation – 699 mentions

Extraordinary times with oil-rich countries and state-funded airline giants admitting the inability to fly passengers until borders open and travel confidence returns, demonstrates how hard hit the aviation industry is right now due to the pandemic. This, coupled with aviation safety, and demands for assistance and programs for aviation workers, were some popular topics discussed in the quarter. According to Simon Calder, a senior travel editor and broadcaster, 2019 was one of the safest years of flying despite the 737 Max crash in March in the same year. The plane type was grounded worldwide within days assuming a software glitch in the flight control system that forced the aircraft to nose dive despite pilots’ efforts to save it.

Meanwhile, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, tweeted on massive support required for aviation employees. The influencer added that absent payroll subsidies, mass layoffs, and furloughs were inevitable with little respite from the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, assistance programs were a must to support those hurt the most, also suggesting long-term consequences related to stricter screening, background checks and security and safety training requirements for all aviation workers.

In other news, Captain Dave, an airlines flyer, discusses how despite the aviation having been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, the UK government has the Air Passenger Duty in place. Backed by the need to address the collapse of Flybe and the industry as a whole, the campaign demands an immediate waiver from APD for the next six months to support the aviation sector.

3. Fleet – 469 mentions

Grounding of the largest aircraft fleets, examining the wiring flaw in the 737 MAX contentious fleet, the need to maintain fleets and avoid mass layoffs, and the retiring of old and less fuel-efficient fleet like the American Airlines’ Boeing 757 and 767 fleet, were popularly discussed topics in the quarter. Dominic Gates, a Seattle Times aerospace reporter, shared an article on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facing dilemma over the 737 MAX fleet wiring flaw that the Boeing missed. As the danger is remote, the issue has complicated the return of the MAX to service after nearly a year. Rerouting wires is being considered as a delicate and expensive task, leading to further potential risks.

With respect to flight groundings, Emirates, which flies the world’s largest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, shut down its passenger operations this week by suspending all flights to more than 140 destinations in over 80 countries, according to Alex Macheras, the aviation analyst.

In other news, the importance of avoiding layoffs and maintaining fleets to help airline staff recuperate from the Covid-19 crisis; and instead, provide direct payroll subsidies to support their immediate needs was proposed by the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson.

4. Coronavirus – 466 mentions

Grounding of all passenger airlines and converting massive fleets to serve as rescue flights, and to transport emergency medical supplies and personal protective equipment in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, were the trending topics discussed during the quarter. According to Henry Harteveldt, an airlines, hotel, and travel industry analyst, discussed the US government had promptly taken the decision to ground all passenger airlines for the next 14-30 days, with cargo planes being an exemption.

Tim Robinson, editor in chief of the Aerospace magazine, tweeted on the Ryanair Group, Dublin, offering its massive fleet to all of EU governments to serve as rescue flights for stranded passengers to return to their home country through careful sanitisation measures and to help operate essential flights in the movement of food, medicine, and protective equipment.

In other news, Dominic Gates, the Seattle Times aerospace reporter, discussed how Boeing cut down business travel amid the coronavirus scare. Some airlines also cut down on flights. Boeing holds the largest corporate travel budgets in the country.

5. Cargo – 301 mentions

A huge demand for medical equipment and food supplies has significantly increased the need for worldwide cargo. This has prompted a number of currently grounded passenger aircraft to transform into cargo-only flights to meet the immediate humanitarian needs amid the Covid-19 crisis. In addition, airlines testing for their new cargo versions were popularly discussed in this quarter. For example, Jason Rabinowitz, an airlines researcher and writer, tweeted on the AA 777-300ER taking off exclusively to haul freight from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Frankfurt Airport in Germany. This is the first time American Airlines has operated a cargo-only flight since 1984.

Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, further tweeted on Qatar formally requesting the International Civil Aviation Organization to open the airspace of the Gulf countries including Saudi, UAE and Bahrain, to allow the movement of essential food supplies and medical equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In other news, flight testing has begun for the first Airbus single-aisle passenger-to-freighter conversion, the A321P2F, with delivery targeted for July, tweeted by Max Kingsley-Jones, executive director content at FlightGlobal. A cargo version is finally in testing after decades of false starts.

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