> Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 17-Nov-2023

Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 17-Nov-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.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO: Chinese carriers return all grounded 737 MAXs to service

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal stated all 737 MAX aircraft that were grounded in China have been returned to service. Mr Deal said the 95th grounded aircraft resumed operations in early Nov-2023. Regarding deliveries of additional 737 MAXs to Chinese carriers, he stated: “We’re in the middle of preparing deliveries for the new MAXs”.

Airbus CCO reports increased demand to replace older aircraft

Airbus CCO Christian Scherer reported “increased demand to replace old airplanes”, particularly large aircraft with greater fuel burn. Mr Scherer predicted there will be “more replacement in the years ahead than there was before”.

Lagardère Travel Retail confident North Asia will return as ‘a strong revenue driver’: CEO

Lagardère Travel Retail chairman and CEO Dag Rasmussen reported 95% of the company’s operations in Asia have reopened following closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Rasmussen stated: “Domestic travel in China is already back to pre-COVID levels so we anticipate further unlocking of travel volume will come primarily from Chinese overseas travel within the region”. He added: “Although the spend per passenger is below expectations, we are confident that over the longer term, North Asia will come back to be a strong revenue driver for our group”.

Riyadh Air to deliver ‘ticketless’ experience using biometric technology: COO

Riyadh Air COO Peter Bellew reported the carrier plans to deliver a “ticketless” experience upon launching commercial operations in 2025. Mr Bellew stated the carrier will employ biometric identification technology, providing a smooth travel experience “with no need to have physical tickets or boarding passes”, adding: “Your face will be your ticket”.

Delta Air Lines CEO: ‘Getting people moving through the plane’ is fastest boarding approach

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian reported the carrier has found that “just boarding people and getting people moving through the plane” is the fastest boarding approach, noting Delta has tried “every which way to board customers”. This follows United Airlines implementing a new window-middle aisle (WILMA) boarding approach from 26-Oct-2023. Mr Bastian stated Delta would “certainly copy” United if its WILMA approach “crack[s] that nut better”.

SAS: Danish passenger tax to effect demand and route development

SAS press manager for Denmark Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji, commenting on the Danish Government’s announcement of a new passenger tax, stated “when it costs as much as DKK1600 (EUR214.53) for a family to go to Bangkok, it will mean that you think twice before booking a trip”. Ms Kaoukji added: “When you increase the charges in that way, I estimate that it will both affect demand and the extent to which we will have the opportunity to strengthen the route network”.

Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport CEO: ‘Slot hoarding’ won’t change ‘until rules change’

Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said he doubts airline behaviour with regards to “slot hoarding” will change “until rules change, starting with the 80:20 rule”. Mr Culbert stated the rule “incentivises slot hoarding rather than penalises it”, adding: “In September there was almost zero correlation between cancellations and external factors like weather or ATC issues”.

Air Canada VP: Asia traffic to reach ‘closer to 80-something percent’ of pre-pandemic levels in 2024

Air Canada VP of network planning Mark Galardo stated the carrier’s Asia traffic is set to reach “closer to 80-something per cent” of 2019 levels in 2024. The traffic forecast is up from 33% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Emirates Airline chairman: ‘It is healthy to have more competition’

Emirates Airline chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum reported the carrier is not worried about increased airline competition in the Middle East as “it is healthy to have more competition”. Sheikh Ahmed noted the Gulf market “can take more than one hub”.

Air Greenland CEO: Main constraint in Greenland right now is hotel capacity

Air Greenland CEO Jacob Nitter Sørensen stated “the main constraint in Greenland right now is hotel capacity”, highlighting that “adding aircraft capacity in the high season doesn’t make sense because you can’t get a hotel room. Mr Sørensen said: “The current strategy is to build traffic in the low season so that investors in hotels can see that it is a business that is sustainable throughout the year”. He added: “As we start to see growth rates in the winter, autumn and spring, investments will come, providing the basis for adding more capacity”.

Etihad Airways CEO: New Abu Dhabi Airport terminal is ‘perfect springboard for our growth’

Etihad Airways CEO Antonoaldo Neves stated the carrier’s relocation to the new Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International Airport is “a perfect springboard for our growth”. Mr Neves added the terminal “will provide the capacity and the quality we need to cater for our guests”.

WestJet CEO: Airfares to decrease in winter 2023/24 as airlines add capacity

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech stated airfares to international leisure destinations are expected to reduce in winter 2023/24 and summer 2024 as airlines add capacity. Mr von Hoensbroech stated: “Last year, our observation was that there was probably more demand than the industry could serve. That’s why we also saw pricing going up quite substantially… This winter we’ll have a better supply-to-demand balance, which will give more affordability to Canadians”. Mr von Hoensbroech added the carrier expects “strong bookings” for the winter 2023/24 season.

AirAsia Aviation Group remains ‘committed’ to serving India: CEO

AirAsia Aviation Group CEO Bo Lingam stated India is a “key market” for the company, adding it remains “committed” to serving the market. Mr Lingam said AirAsia, Thai AirAsia and AirAsia X have flown 1.6 million passengers from India between Jan-2023 and Nov-2023.

Dubai Airports CEO: Inbound China traffic to ‘bounce back’ in 4Q2023

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths reported inbound China traffic at Dubai International Airport is expected to “bounce back” in 4Q2023. Mr Griffiths noted China is one of the airport’s biggest markets in the Far East region and has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Aegean Airlines CEO: Operating environment challenging with low forward visibility

Aegean Airlines CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis stated recent developments in the Middle East “demonstrate that we will continue to operate in a dynamic and challenging environment with low forward visibility”. Mr Gerogiannis added: “Similarly, on the operational front, it is evident that there will continue to be challenges from limits in soft and hard infrastructure as well as supply chain issues that will significantly impact operations”.

Indonesia reports 85% domestic flight recovery as of Sep-2023: Minister

Indonesia’s Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi stated connectivity in the transport sector supports growth of the ASEAN region’s tourism sector. Mr Sumadi stated: “We continue to improve transportation connectivity after the pandemic to support growth of the tourism sector, which is also affected”. He added recovery in Indonesia has reached 85% for domestic flights and 75% for international flights, based on Sep-2023 data.

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