> Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 22-Sep-2023

Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 22-Sep-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.

Qantas Group undergoing ‘significant period of renewal’: Chairman

Qantas Group chairman Richard Goyder stated “As we move through our recovery, management and the board are acutely aware of the need to rebuild your confidence in Qantas”. Mr Goyder said: “We’re also conscious of the loss of trust that has occurred because our service has often fallen short of expectations, compounded by a number of other issues relating to the pandemic period”. He added the company’s board and management are undergoing a “significant period of renewal”.

United Airlines CEO: Proposed compensation increases to threaten aviation safety ‘bedrock’

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby stated US Department of Transportation’s (DoT) plans to increase passenger compensation for delays and cancellations could threaten the safety “bedrock” of the airline industry. The proposed legislation would increase compensation for disruptions that fall under airlines’ control. Mr Kirby said added costs of accommodation and meals may put pressure on flight crew, with pilots potentially risking safety to avoid the “extra cost of delay”.

Flight Centre CEO calls for more open skies agreements

Flight Centre Travel Group CEO Graham Turner stated the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should be consulted on how international airlines gain access to airspace in Australia. Mr Turner said federal government should also consider introducing more open skies agreements with other countries to increase international services into the country. He said: “The ACCC is generally involved with codeshare determinations. We believe it should also be consulted on bilateral agreements”.

JetBlue Airways CEO: System ‘can’t cope with the number of flights today’ amid ATC shortages

JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes reported the carrier has had to reduce flights at airports impacted by air traffic control (ATC) staffing shortages as “the system can’t cope with the number of flights today”. Mr Hayes stated the carrier is “selling flights that we know we won’t be able to operate because of ATC challenges”, adding it would still take the airline industry five years to catch up if US FAA doubled controller hiring immediately.

777 Partners looks at seasonality benefits for future airline investments

777 Partners CEO airline investments Manish Raniga stated 777 Partners is seeking to take stakes in more airlines in regions including Europe, the Middle East and South America. Mr Raniga commented: “We are actively looking for those types of opportunities”. He added: “If we’re able to not just have the right geographical locations, but the ability to match seasonality as well – that would be the ultimate synergy for us”.

UNWTO CEO: ‘Tourism is recovering strongly in every part of the world’

UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stated: “Tourism is recovering strongly in every part of the world”, after it was revealed global international tourist arrivals reached 84% of pre-pandemic levels for Jan-2023 to Jul-2023. The data shows “tourism demand continues to show remarkable resilience and sustained recovery, even in the face of economic and geopolitical challenges,” according to UNWTO.

flydubai CEO: UAE-India bilateral air services agreement would open ‘endless potential’

flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith called for a bilateral air services agreement between UAE and India, noting India is “a huge market for us”. Mr Al Ghaith stated an air services agreement with India would open up “endless potential” for both countries’ aviation markets.

UK Government rules out taxes to ‘discourage flying’ under revised net zero plans

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a series of revised plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 whilst “reducing costs on British families”. The plans rule out policy ideas which would require citizens to “be taxed to discourage their flying”. Mr Sunak added: “We’ll now have a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach that eases the burdens on families. All while doubling down on the new green industries of the future. In a democracy, that’s the only realistic path to net zero”.

Qatar Airways to ground ‘cost-ineffective’ A380 fleet upon 777X arrival in numbers: CEO

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker stated the carrier intends to ground its A380 fleet “as soon as we start getting [Boeing 777Xs] in numbers. Mr Al Baker stated the A380 is ” a very cost-ineffective airplane”. Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of eight active A380s, with an additional two aircraft in storage.

WestJet CEO calls upon regulators to create ‘competitive investment climate’ for SAF production

WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech stated Canada “has an enormous opportunity to further its global leadership in energy sustainability” through domestic sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production, supported by “the right regulatory environment and collaborative efforts of producers and airlines”. Mr von Hoensbroech called upon policymakers to establish a regulatory framework “to create a competitive investment climate for SAF production, right here in Canada, that keeps air travel affordable and accessible”, noting “not a single drop of SAF” has been produced in Canada to date. He added the most direct path to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 “hinges on the future of SAF production”, with collaboration between airlines, producers and policymakers to be “the best path forward to making SAF the low carbon fuel standard”.

WTTC CEO: industry faces risk from self-axing of VAT-free shopping for international tourists

WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson commented: “The recovery and long term growth of the sector is at risk with the self-axing of VAT-free shopping for international tourists. We will continue to see high-value tourists choosing France and Italy over the UK and taking with them economic value and jobs”.

Air Transat 3Q2023 results reflect ‘strong overall execution’ amid ‘robust’ leisure demand: CEO

Transat AT president and CEO Annick Guerard stated Air Transat’s 3Q2023 results “demonstrate strong overall execution and our ability to meet sustained customer demand in a cost-efficient way”. Ms Guerard reported yields increased 29% compared to 2019 levels amid “robust” demand for leisure travel. Air Transat reported a net profit of CAD42.4 million (USD31.36 million) for 3Q2023.

Air Serbia CEO: Wizz Air is ‘tough player’ in Belgrade

Air Serbia CEO Jiri Marek said Wizz Air is the carrier’s key competitor in Belgrade. Mr Marek said: “Compared to 2019, Wizz Air increased its capacity by 190%. Our capacity is 30% higher than before the pandemic. Wizz Air is a tough player in Belgrade”. Air Serbia and Wizz Air compete directly on Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Rome Fiumicino, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Heraklion, Larnaca, Lisbon and Malta routes.

US DoT secretary: Ongoing ATC shortage in New York ‘unacceptable’

US Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated the ongoing air traffic controller shortage impacting the New York area is “unacceptable”. Mr Buttigieg reported the US Government is working to improve hiring rates to alleviate pressure on employees and ensure operational efficiency.

Nigerian airports ‘the most expensive’ in Africa: IATA regional VP

IATA regional VP Africa and the Middle East Kamil Al-Awadhi stated Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is “the most expensive airport in Africa”, followed by Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Mr Al-Awadhi said the Nigerian Government imposes about 27 charges on airlines. Mr Al-Awadhi commented: “With all these exorbitant charges, Nigerian airlines can’t compete with their foreign counterparts”.

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