> Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 13-Oct-2023

Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 13-Oct-2023

CTC – Corporate Travel Community each week brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.

Rolls-Royce: Scheduled services with electric aircraft ‘a realistic goal’ in current decade

Rolls-Royce Electrical global head of manufacturing Zoltán Koltai commented on Rolls-Royce’s development of electric and hybrid-electric systems for the advanced air mobility (AAM) market, stating: “Developments are already underway that focus not only on products, but also on manufacturing technology and certifications, so it is a realistic goal to have scheduled flights within this decade powered by our systems”. Mr Koltai also said AAM “will complement current air transport, not take passengers away from it”.

Virgin Australia in ‘very strong’ capital position: CFO

Virgin Australia CFO Race Strauss stated the carrier’s balance sheet is now “considerably stronger”, adding the cost base of the business has “significantly improved” from recent years. Mr Strauss said: “Future transformation plans put us in a good position to manage cost headwinds and continue to improve our business”. He noted Virgin Australia is now in a “very strong” capital position, with total debt including leases now AUD2.3 billion (USD1.47 billion) and over AUD1 billion (USD641.16 million) of cash on balance sheet.

Air France-KLM: Leisure traveller willing to pay a little more for premium services

Air France-KLM general director for Spain and Portugal Laurent Perrier stated that while company has “not yet recovered the levels” of 2019 in terms of business traveller traffic, this “has been compensated by the increase of the vacation”. Mr Perrier said many passengers who opted for business classes during the pandemic “have become loyal”, with “the leisure passenger now willing to pay a little more to have more comfort and premium services”.

Emirates Skywards welcoming 300,000 new members monthly: divisional SVP

Emirates Airline divisional SVP Skywards Nejib Ben-Khedher reported the Skywards programme is welcoming approximately 300,000 new members per month and is “continuing to grow”. Mr Ben-Khedher stated the carrier is adding “more opportunities to enrol members at customer journey touchpoints” and providing benefits including free onboard WiFi, which is helping the programme acquire new members.

A4E: delays ‘significantly exceeded the target’ with ‘400% increase in the average delay per flight’

Airlines for Europe (A4E) reported (11-Oct-2023) the latest annual report of the Single European Sky’s Performance Review Body (PRB) for 2022 shows that delays “significantly exceeded the target” and “there was a 400% increase in the average delay per flight”. Managing director Ourania Georgoutsakou commented: “We need to bolster Europe’s airspace capacity, drive reforms in its operations and pave the way for airlines to operate more efficiently. Not only will this deliver a better passenger experience – it will also further enable airlines to reduce their environmental footprint”.

Qatar Airways CEO: Net zero by 2050 will be ‘very difficult to achieve’

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker stated the aviation industry’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 “will be very difficult to achieve”. Mr Al Baker called upon oil producers to “roll up their sleeves” and provide sustainable fuel options “in the volumes we want” and at prices affordable to passengers, which is “not happening”.

Malaysia Airlines CCO: India emerging as top international market

Malaysia Airlines CCO Dersenish Aresandiran stated India has emerged as the carrier’s top international market. Mr Aresandiran said its Indian market assures the carrier of “multiple opportunities for growth and expansion”. He added: “We have already achieved over 90% of our pre-pandemic capacity in India, operating 57 weekly flights to six destinations”.

ETC: ‘Europe is reestablishing its connection with Asian tourists’

ETC president Miguel Sanz commented: “After a long period of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe is reestablishing its connection with Asian tourists”, adding “our appeal remains strong to long haul travellers all over the world, with Europe’s timeless culture and history acting as the biggest draw”.

Embraer expecting aircraft delivery growth to continue in 2024: CEO

Embraer president and CEO Francisco Gomes Neto commented on the company’s aircraft delivery outlook, stating: “We are still finalising our planning for next year, it’s not ready yet and there is still no guidance, but we have the expectation that this year’s growth will repeat next year”.

ALA president: Aviation fuel tax can have a devastating impact on Spain

Spain’s Association of Airlines (ALA) president Javier Gándara stated an EU tax on aviation fuel “can have a devastating impact on Spain, on its tourism and, therefore, on its economy and employment”. Mr Gándara said “more than four out of every five international tourists who visit us [Spain] do so by plane”, and expects that “if their main mode of transport is no longer as accessible and affordable as it has been until now, they will opt for other, more competitive destinations”.

Virgin Atlantic Airways to ‘build Barbados’ as ‘regional hub’: CCO

Virgin Atlantic Airways CCO Juha Jarvinen reported the carrier plans to “build Barbados” as a “regional hub”. Mr Jarvinen added: “We do believe that Bridgetown can act as a regional hub for us. That is the reason why we are now selling these local sectors between Barbados and Grenada, and Barbados and St Vincent as a first step. It is to really build that local connectivity option”.

PATA Cambodia chairman calls for promotion of long term stay visas

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chairman Thourn Sinan stated Cambodia’s government must improve airports and land border crossings and promote long term stay visas. Mr Sinan said promoting long term stay visas with durations exceeding 15 days, as well as providing additional benefits or incentives, would attract a larger number of international tourists. He added: “This, in turn, can generate additional tourism revenue and stimulate various sectors of the local economy”.

Leeds Bradford Airport has no ‘legal authority’ to stop airlines from operating night flights: CEO

Leeds Bradford Airport CEO Vincent Hodder said airport management has no “legal authority” to stop an airline from operating night flights. The comment follows an application by the airport to Leeds Bradford Airport for a series of certificates of lawful developments (CLEUDs) to determine whether newer generation, quieter aircraft can operate during the restricted period between 23:00 and 07:00. The council is expected to make a decision on the CLEUDs by 01-Nov-2023. Mr Hodder stated: “When the airlines apply for landing and take-off slots at the airport, we tell them whether or not we have space at that particular point in time. But we don’t have legal authority to tell them not to operate. They can choose to operate even if we tell them they can’t”.

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