From being a booming industry with inexorably rising passenger numbers whose long-term trajectory appeared untroubled by terrorism and Icelandic volcanic eruptions, the virus pretty much brought everything down to the ground with a very sudden jolt.
The scale of the impact of coronavirus was reflected in bizarre figures which showed anomalies such as Loganair’s lifeline flights making it Europe’s 17th busiest airline for a time, eclipsing giants like Ryanair, while Aberdeen briefly became the continent’s 32nd busiest airport because of its offshore and island services.
Scotland’s airports laid off huge numbers of staff, as did airlines and support firms, to such an extent that there was a huge shortage when demand for air travel surged again this summer – and with it long queues on occasions, short-notice cancellations and mountains of mislaid luggage.
But all through the pandemic, I recall Ryanair executives’ telling me of their optimism about a return to the skies.
Even when the outlook remained uncertain last year with restrictions still in place, I was amazed to hear them talk confidently of expanding further at Edinburgh, adding more aircraft to be based at Scotland’s busiest airport.
Well, not only have they done what they said, adding two aircraft to make a total of ten, the Irish budget carrier has now taken the number one spot at Edinburgh from long-time leader Easyjet after carrying the most passengers this summer and announcing a record 57 routes this year – 12 more than in 2021.
Meanwhile, over in Glasgow, Jet2 has confirmed it will add a seventh aircraft next year, consolidating the airport as the airline’s largest Scottish base.
But it’s not just European flights on the up – with Delta resuming Edinburgh-Atlanta flights in May after 14 years, the airport will offer a record six US routes.
The odd thing is, all this air expansion coincides with both a cost of living crisis and climate emergency.
Can you still afford to fly – and can the environment afford it?