> Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 8-Sep-2023

Soundbytes: travel and aviation industry insights – week ending 8-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.

Flight Centre CEO: ‘There’s no doubt our flights are too expensive’

Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner commented on airfares in Australia, stating: “There’s no doubt our flights are too expensive, it’s just the reality of too little supply and too much demand”. Mr Turner said: “The government had a chance to make a small difference with [Qatar Airways] and they decided exactly the opposite, there is no logic in that”. He stated: “It’s pretty obvious, we just don’t have the capacity into Australia at the moment”, adding: “We think the capacity is at about 75% internationally and obviously the demand is enormous and airfares are too expensive”. Mr Turner noted: “A lot of people can’t afford the sort of airfare prices. There are some good specials around but on average they are about 40% or 50% more expensive than pre-COVID and this is important to Australia”.

eDreams ODIGEO in ‘optimal’ position for expansion: CEO

eDreams ODIGEO CEO Dana Dunne stated the company is in an “optimal” position to expand further after “stellar” results in Q1FY2024. Ms Dunne said: “With 2025 only 18 months away, we are now looking beyond our once-seen-as-ambitious 2025 targets, which are now well within reach thanks to the excellent operational and strategic execution of our plans”. She added: “As we continue to strengthen our tech powerhouse, notably in the field of AI, we have emerged as a leader not only in the travel sector but also in the broader e-commerce industry”.

Trip.com: demand for both domestic and international travel remains ‘resilient’

Trip.com reported corporate travel revenue increased 178% in 2Q2023 primarily due to a “substantial” recovery in travel. Executive chairman James Liang stated demand for both domestic and international travel remained “resilient”, adding: “We remain optimistic about the enduring demand for travel and the long-term market outlook”.

Fiji Deputy PM calls for ‘new chapter’ with visa free travel with New Zealand

Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad stated a visa free travel agreement between Fiji and New Zealand (NZ) would help both economies, which are “underperforming” in trade relations. Mr Parsad stated: “I know the NZ workforce is losing people and Fiji is losing a lot of people as well”, adding: “A fully visa-free regime between our countries will be the start of a new chapter”.

Emirates to operate A380s until late 2030s or early 2040s: Divisional VP UK

Emirates Airline divisional VP UK Richard Jewsbury reported the carrier plans to operate A380 aircraft until “the late 2030s, maybe early 2040s”. Mr Jewsbury stated the carrier’s most recently delivered A380s “are going to be around for a while”, noting the carrier took delivery of its last A380 in Dec-2021.

KLM CEO: Schiphol noise targets can be achieved in a better way

KLM CEO Marjan Rintel stated that by planning to “drastically cut the number of flights” at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the Dutch Government “is opting to focus one-sidedly on capacity reduction as a goal in itself”. Ms Rintel stated: “Noise targets can be achieved in a better way that would really benefit local residents, the climate, airlines and the Dutch economy”. She highlighted that as demonstrated in the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) verified “cleaner, quieter and more efficient” plan submitted on 15-Jun-2023, noise targets can be achieved while operating the current number of flights.

Finavia CEO: Pax and revenues ‘will remain low for a long time’

Finavia reported a EUR14.5 million negative operating result in 1H2023 due to the low number of passengers at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, which handled only approximately 70% of 1H2019 volumes. Finavia CEO Kimmo Mäki stated: “We estimate that passenger volumes and, consequently, Finavia’s air traffic revenues will remain low for a long time due to the closure of Russian airspace”. Mr Mäki added: “Due to moderate passenger volumes, Helsinki Airport’s revenues are not adequate to cover the operation of all regional network airports or future investment needs. Despite the fact that we are actively continuing our work to launch new flight connections, as well as implementing cost cutting measures and taking other actions to ensure financially sustainable operations, the financing of the airport network is facing a dire situation”.

BAC CEO: Rex’s planned Adelaide-Brisbane service is ‘welcome news’

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff, commenting on Rex Airlines’ plans to launch Adelaide-Brisbane service on 30-Oct-2023, stated “The Brisbane to Adelaide market has been starved of capacity and is currently sitting at 88% of pre-COVID levels. Today’s announcement by Rex will instantly restore it to 99% capacity which is very welcome news for travellers”. Mr de Graaff added: “In 2019, 875,000 people flew between these two cities. We look forward to growing that number for the benefit of the people of Queensland and South Australia”.

Norse Atlantic Airways CEO: 2Q2023 marked a significant period of ramping up

Norse Atlantic Airways CEO Bjørn Tore Larsen stated 2Q2023 “marked a significant period of ramping up” as the carrier inaugurated new destinations in the US and Europe. Mr Larsen said by the end of 2Q2023 the airline had “more than doubled capacity, with June being our first month of increased production, and notably our first month generating bottom line profits”. Available seat kilometres were up by 51% quarter-on-quarter “due to planned ramp-up as Norse brought more aircraft into production”, while EBITDAR was USD2.2 million, the first positive EBITDAR on a quarterly basis since inception of the company.

Travel advisors ‘extremely important’ for Air Vanuatu: Commercial manager

Air Vanuatu chief commercial manager Greg Wilson stated travel advisors are “extremely important” for the carrier. Mr Wilson said: “I think there’s always been talk of people moving away from travel agents and doing their own bookings”. He added: “But post-COVID, it’s highlighted the importance of having travel agents who are up to date with what is happening with destinations, health requirements, and entry requirements, which can change”.

Nigerian Aviation Minister ‘prepared to protect the rights of local operators’

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Festus Keyamo reportedly intends to review the country’s bilateral air services agreements and protections in place for domestic carriers. Mr Keyamo stated the government is prepared to provide airlines with financial and operational assistance on the condition that carriers work to increase capacity, partner with international airlines and reduce delays. Mr Keyamo stated: “I am prepared to protect the rights of local operators. In fact, it is one of my cardinal objectives because we have to develop the industry”.

Tourism Australia: Chinese travellers dispersing beyond major Australian cities

Tourism Australia MD Phillipa Harrison stated travellers from China have been returning to Australia in a “growing number” since the start of 2023. Ms Harrison said the return of the group travel segment from China will provide “another important boost”. She added: “We were also seeing Chinese travellers dispersing beyond our major cities and into our regional cities and rural areas”.

Sarawak Premier: MASwings acquisition to enable more regional services

Sarawak’s Premier Abang Johari Openg said the state government plans to expand the operation of airlines serving the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) once it has acquired MASwings. Mr Abang said: “The strategic advantage of having Sarawak’s airline will allow us control over route preferences in addition to enhancing the domestic aviation sector”.

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