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By Bhanu Choudhrie, Founder and Executive Director of Alpha Aviation Group


Air travel has been one of the hardest-hit industries during the Covid-19 pandemic and the IATA has estimated that airlines globally will lose more than $300 billion due to the outbreak.

As a result, many carriers have had to make dramatic spending cuts over the past year and the economic impact has put a significant strain on the liquidity buffers of airline companies.

On top of this, it will come as no surprise that successive travel bans and nationwide lockdowns acted as a deterrent for investors – with 2020 going down in the history books as one of the air transport industry’s most turbulent years to date.

However, with the aviation industry now looking to re-build as international air travel begins to re-open, it’s imperative that we see a shift in this narrative and a return to capital investment drives, so that the sector can come back stronger.

So why, despite the ongoing global economic uncertainty, is now the right time to be investing in the aviation industry?


Inter-industry linkages

Whilst air transport only accounts for a small share of GDP, it has strong inter-industry linkages with upstream and downstream sectors – making it a crucial part of the economy that cannot continue to be left on pause.

Without a doubt, mobility is at the core of our socio-economic fabric – it supports social connections and enables access to goods and services. Whilst there are numerous pillars of transport, the aviation industry provides an unrivalled global transportation network, creating jobs, economic growth and facilitating international trade.

In the UK alone, the ongoing crisis has resulted in a £271 billion hole in the nations finances, plunging the country into one of the worst economic recessions in recorded history. And it is by no means an exception.

The aviation industry is a crucial facilitator of much broader economic activity, and so, if we are to start to pave a way out of this unprecedented crisis, it’s crucial that the sector has the investment and support it needs to be back up and running as soon as possible.


New market optimism

With the vaccine roll out gaining momentum, we are already seeing airlines adding new routes, hiring new pilots and taking delivery of new aircraft. For example, just last month, JetBlue announced a new service from London to New York, PSA Airlines and Frontier Airlines are just two groups that have resumed pilot hiring, and Boeing has unveiled plans to ship half of its undelivered aircraft by the end of this year.

On top of this, domestic market activity is booming. In India, activity has come back to 85 percent and China’s domestic aviation market has rebounded following strict lockdowns early last year. With the Asian middle class predicted to increase to around 3.5 billion by 2032, this region is set to become extremely important and there will be new demands to meet.

Whilst the pandemic has thrown the aviation industry into turmoil, it has also created the opportunity for new market players to emerge by taking advantage of the voids left by their competitors. Against this backdrop, it will be the airlines and companies that invest in these future market opportunities now, that will be the ones who benefit in the long run.


Mitigating future pilot shortage issues

While the number of active pilots decreased significantly during 2020, according to the 2020-2029 CAE Pilot Demand Outlook, growing consumer demand and the ongoing challenge of age-based retirement are expected to drive a resurgence in demand for pilots. In fact, the report suggests that the global civil aviation industry will still require 264,000 new pilots over the coming decade.

On top of this, pilots are still required to clock up over 1,500 flying hours to receive their ATP certificate. With flight routes still restricted and numerous planes grounded, airlines and cargo operators need to re-think their pilot training strategy and innovate to ensure that they can meet the demand for new cohorts of pilots who strive to excel.

Amid this backdrop, investing in appropriate simulator training facilities and e-learning solutions has become pivotal. For example, online solutions have helped to ensure that cadet classes have stayed on track and enabled them to progress and train remotely. Moreover, by adapting to a simulator model, pilots have been able to keep on top of the legal requirements and proficiency needed to be ready to return to the sky as soon as the opportunity arises.

Whilst these tech solutions have been propelled to the forefront over the past twelve months, the market is still growing and therefore ripe for investment. Airline groups and training facilities are already working with the regulators to ensure that these training methods continue as we emerge into a post-covid era. With the digital transition only gaining pace, now is the time to invest to ensure the industry can build back better.


Opportunities for all

Without a doubt, 2020 was a turbulent period for airline stocks. In fact, the NYSE Arca Global Airlines Index lost more than 31 percent over the 12 month period as record industry losses were reported by several carriers. However, for an investor, this means that industry stocks are at a discount.

Looking ahead throughout 2021 and market growth is optimistic. For example, China’s aviation industry is set to recover the quickest among G-20 nations and the county’s passenger volume is estimated to reach 90 percent of pre-Covid levels by as soon as the end of July. In addition, low-cost carriers in India are suggesting that consumer demand for travel will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

With the market now on an upward trajectory, stock prices are set to gain momentum again. So now may be the time to invest ahead of an anticipated industry boom.


Looking ahead

The aviation industry has taken a significant hit amid the Covid pandemic and, whilst signs of a recovery are starting to emerge, commercial aviation will still have some challenging times ahead. However, with a path out of this turbulent period in sight, it’s imperative we start planning ahead for the future and investing in the new market developments and technological advancements that will enable the industry to meet new supply and demand scenarios as they emerge. There are plenty of opportunities coming to market, now we just need to be bold and seize them.


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Insurance providers must be ready to tackle quote manipulation as potential fraud rises




Sam Marsh, director, product management at LexisNexis Risk Solutions Insurance

As road fuel costs reach a record high[i]  and inflation hits a level not seen in 40 years[ii], it is little wonder that reducing motoring spend, including shopping around for cheaper car insurance, is top of the agenda for many people. Indeed, recent reports indicate that 68% of UK adults plan to decrease the amount they spend on driving[iii]. As finances are squeezed, the fact that one in five motor insurance buyers think it is fine to manipulate details in their insurance application to obtain a favourable quote on their premium[iv], indicates that insurance application fraud looks set to rise.

To some, quote manipulation may seem innocent enough, but deliberately misstating key pieces of information is fraud. This can have the knock-on effect of increasing policy prices for all.  More concerning is that individuals deliberately misstating information in their application could find their policy is made null and void if this is discovered at claim and they may also find it difficult to obtain insurance in the future.  What may seem like a little white lie can have long-lasting ramifications.

What exactly is quote manipulation though? Manipulating a quote is when a person applying for insurance (the proposer) deliberately materially changes information on an application throughout the quote journey, to reduce the premium. It could be the address the vehicle is left at overnight, whether it has any modifications or years licence held. Often this is done across numerous quotes to compare results, cherry-picking the best.

‘Fronting’ is an example of application fraud and often involves quote manipulation.  This is where a person (often a father/mother/older sibling) declare themselves as the main driver/proposer, when really it is their newly qualified family member who would be a higher cost to insure.  They will try numerous quotes, swapping out different main drivers, to see how the costs compare.

So how can the shrewd use of data enrichment at point of quote help the industry move the fight against fraud from detection at point of claim, to prevention at the front door?  It comes down to using quotation data intelligence gathered from across the insurance market.

Fraud comes in many guises, but insurance providers cannot fight it in silo. A market-wide quote history database can help identify potentially fraudulent quote behaviour in real-time by comparing quotes across a specific period of time to identify the probability of data being manipulated.  This insight puts insurance providers in a position to check the facts with the customer before policy inception.

It’s not just fraud prevention this quote history data can help with, understanding the likelihood of quote manipulation can also help support pricing and underwriting practices, when used alongside additional data attributes at the point of quote.

Indeed, insurance providers could combine unique insight into how, when and if an individual has shopped for insurance with further insurance specific data sources such as policy history (cancellations, gaps in cover); vehicle history (MOT, valuation, mileage); the presence and performance of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems; and soon claims history to create a 360-degree view of the risk. This can help insurance providers consider the suitability of a product or price for a particular customer, offering them a significantly better customer experience.

Our research suggests that it is younger people who are more likely to manipulate quotes with nearly three quarters of 18–24-year-olds in our recent study thinking any or some adjustment of information is okay in order to reduce their insurance premium[v].  This may not come as a surprise given a recent report has found that the under-30s are disproportionately being forced to bear the brunt of the costs of social care reform and Covid via a 10% increase National Insurance Contributions and freeze on the student loan repayment threshold[vi]. So, the ‘Packhorse Generation’ as they are being dubbed, may, more than other generations, give in to the temptation of quote manipulation.

However, as stated previously, if an insurance provider knows up front the risk of a quote being manipulated, that is their opportunity to query the validity of the data and educate consumers who may be genuinely unaware of the risks of deliberate mis-statements, before policy inception.  This approach can help protect both themselves and the customer from the outcome of fraud.

As economic pressure spirals, insurance professionals have an immediate opportunity to leverage consumer quote information to educate, protect and price customers based on their shopping behaviour.




[iv] LexisNexis Risk Solutions was not identified as the sponsor of this research, which was based on a survey of 1,546 consumers who had bought motor insurance online within the last 12 months and was conducted during April 2022

[v] LexisNexis Risk Solutions was not identified as the sponsor of this research, which was based on a survey of 1,546 consumers who had bought motor insurance online within the last 12 months and was conducted during April 2022


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Urban Company rolls out health insurance for service professionals in partnership with ACKO Insurance




  • Health insurance plan to benefit 40,000+ service partners in India
  • Service partners can avail up to 12 free-of-cost online doctor consultations in a year
  • Urban Company already provides Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover to all the service partners associated with the platform   

Urban Company, Asia’s largest tech-enabled home services marketplace, today announced that it is introducing a comprehensive health insurance plan for its service partners in India. The company has tied up with ACKO Insurance to craft this insurance cover.

Under the newly launched health insurance policy, all UC Plus service partners will get an insurance cover of INR 2 lac. The policy will also provide family medical insurance for spouse and two children and up to 12 free medical consultations per year. This is in addition to the existing Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover. Service partners without UC Plus subscription will benefit from a health insurance cover of INR 1 lac, with up to 12 free medical consultations per year for self, along with the existing benefits of the Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover.

Commenting on the initiative, Varun Khaitan, COO & Co-founder Urban Company, said, “Health insurance provides a shield against unexpected medical expenses that can throw individuals and families in dire financial situation. To protect our service partners from such a scenario, we are introducing a specially designed health insurance plan. At Urban Company, our priority has always been the well-being of our partners and we constantly strive towards that through our continued focus on safety net and wealth creation for them.”

Brijesh Unithan, Senior Vice President of Partnerships, ACKO Insurance said “Health Insurance has become a critical aspect in financial planning, and kudos to Urban Company for planning this on behalf of their service professionals. We are excited about the partnership and will keep refining the benefits with more experience to make it a one-stop shop for Urban Company’s service professionals to access all their health insurance needs. 

ACKO Group Medical Cover (GMC) empowers partners to choose from a wide range of benefits offering flexibility to change benefits as per the changing needs of the family and reduces the burden of expensive medical care and the soaring medical inflation. In addition, ACKO GMC eliminates the tedious paperwork by making the entire insurance journey accessible on the app.

Urban Company has a structured approach towards partner development and well-being centered around 4 key pillars: improved earnings, safety net, training and wealth creation. This announcement is part of the Urban Company’s efforts to further strengthen the safety net it offers to its partners. All active partners on the UC platform in India are covered under the Group Life and Accidental Insurance cover. Some of the key aspects covered under the policy are life insurance (INR 6 lakhs), disability cover (INR 6 lakhs), accidental hospitalization (INR 70,000), accidental OPD treatment (INR 10,000), among others.

Recently, Urban Company also announced an industry-first ‘Partner Stock Ownership Plan (PSOP)’ initiative for its service partners. Under this initiative, the Company plans to award stocks worth INR 150 Cr. to thousands of service partners over the next 5-7 years. This will enable Urban Company service partners, including plumbers, electricians, cleaners, beauticians, and massage therapists etc., to become equal stakeholders in the company’s growth.


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