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Video-conferencing challenges airline business. This time it will hurt

Premium Analysis

Arguments have raged for decades about whether various kinds of air travel will be subverted by the various kinds of video conferencing facility that were available. The challenges have consistently been overestimated - until now. This time things will be different, but judging just how great the shift will be isn't yet possible.

The corona pandemic has put three factors in play which will certainly change the previous equilibrium:
- the standard of the technology, which is improving rapidly as artificial intelligence techniques play an increasing role;
- fear of travel, which may be getting worse as the COVID-19 pandemic continues; and
- the great travel cost savings that companies have made with teleconferencing, at a time when cost cutting is paramount.

Improvements in the video conferencing industry will impact both airline leisure travellers and - the financially critical - business travellers. Although video communication will never replace travel, it has found new strengths during the COVID-19 pandemic and will strongly resist giving back the ground won in recent months.

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