Chinese New Year Celebrations
Will the start of a new 12-year Chinese cycle herald a return to full form for aviation? Image Credit: Supplied

This week marks the first week of the Chinese New Year. Apart from being married to a Chinese and having spent part of my life in China and Singapore, I’m about to get more excited for the Year of the Tiger during the COVID-19 crisis.

You’ll probably raise your eyebrow and start wondering why, as a European living in the UAE, I should be feeling excited about such an event during these challenging times and what history can teach us. To understand it, let us dive into the ‘red envelope’ (Hongbao) first. Each year of the Chinese lunar calendar is associated with one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac.

According to Chinese tradition, the traits of each year’s animal foretell both the characteristics of people born in that year and trends for the coming year. The Year of the Tiger is the start of a new 12-year cycle, meaning the last Year of the Tiger was back in 2010. In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts as it symbolizes power and a great deal of nerve.

The beast has always featured heavily in Chinese culture and tradition. It is also known as the king of the mountain. Furthermore, tigers are also known for their passion, courage, willingness to take risks, and desire for challenge.

Past ‘tiger years’ offer hope

I personally do not believe in astrology, but over the years, I’ve noticed the traits of the animal for that Chinese New Year remarkably aligned with the track of the aviation industry. Looking back at previous crises the aviation industry had gone through, the Years of the Tiger have made the aviation industry roaring back, including the 1973 oil crisis (Year of the Tiger being in 1974), the 1997 Asian financial crisis (Year of the Tiger: 1998), and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 (Year of the Tiger: 2010). In saying this, we can believe that the Year of the Tiger is a symbol for a year of recovery after a major crisis impacting the aviation industry.

As this is the start of the new 12-year Chinese cycle, now is a good time to embrace positive change for the aviation industry. We all need to put competition aside and come together this year for once to overcome associated challenges and pave the way for a more sustainable and better future for our industry.

Reshape for a younger generation

Every generation must take the responsibility to contribute to the highly vibrant industry since it will be the younger generations who will ultimately inherit the current state of the industry from us – just as we did. The most powerful - and effective - way to build a better world for the aviation industry is to bring the young generation along with us and shape it in a way that will embody their passion for aviation.

For the aviation industry, this year is full of opportunities - and the ‘tigers’ will be courageous to grab them. Products or services with significant financial potential will be introduced this year. The outlook for aviation and travel is rapidly brightening as we seem finally to be moving towards the new normal. Airlines are ramping up their activities for the sought-after busy summer period in the Northern Hemisphere.

Since the Chinese New Year is always a festival associated with money, this year is doubly oriented toward the financial well-being of aviation. Hence, this should be the year for aviation to embrace the challenges and take on new directions towards sustainability and profitability. Let us roar together for better times ahead!