> Soundbytes: your weekly travel and aviation industry insights

Soundbytes: your weekly travel and aviation industry insights

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.

London Heathrow Airport CEO: Travel demand defying ‘all kinds of gravity’

London Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye, commenting on the carrier’s 1H2023 financial results, said demand for leisure travel is continuing to “defy all kinds of gravity”, with the airport expecting patterns to change “sometime over the next six to 12 months”. Mr Holland-Kaye added: “You would think that with cost-of-living crisis, the high price of airline tickets, some of the global economic slowdown, we would have seen leisure travel coming down. I was expecting it to sort of tail off at the end of last year”.

Flight Centre CEO: ‘We desperately need more capacity in Australia’

Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner said the industry faces a significant capacity challenge despite strong travel demand. Mr Turner said: “Because of lack of capacity and we desperately need more capacity in Australia because it does two things; it satisfies the mark, and it also brings down airfares”.

SAP Concur: ‘imperative for businesses to invest in the right travel and expense management tools’

SAP Concur senior global partner business manager Kristen Hrycoy stated: “It is imperative for businesses to invest in the right travel and expense management tools to prioritise employee safety, gain better cost control, and create a travel environment that promotes inclusivity and equity for all”.

Finnair CEO: Global capacity challenges impacting carrier’s performance

Finnair reported EUR1444 million in revenue for 1H2023, up 52% year-on-year. CEO Topi Manner described the performance as “strong”, stating: “We captured demand with our balanced network and were successful in our pricing and sales efforts”. Mr Manner added: “The long tail of the pandemic was visible as capacity bottle necks in global aviation; there is a global shortage of aircraft, spare parts as well as pilots and other staff”.

TAV Airports CEO: Depreciation of Turkish Lira counteracting inflationary pressures in tourism

TAV Airports handled 24.3 million international passengers across its airport network in 1H2023, up 42% year-on-year. CEO Serkan Kaptan said: “Almost all of our source markets are materially above 2019 passenger levels except for Russian traffic, which is at 52% of 2019 levels across our portfolio”. Mr Kaptan added: “Turkish tourism has remained very strong and highly demanded throughout the second quarter of 2023. In line with global trends, inflationary pressures are present in the tourism industry, but depreciation of Turkish Lira counteracts and Türkiye continues to offer impeccable quality and price in tourism”.

Australian Tourism & Transport Forum CEO calls for upgrade to border processing systems

Australia’s Tourism & Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond called for an upgrade to border processing systems as a major and necessary reform. Ms Osmond said Australia should “use the Trans-Tasman border as a test case” to trial “more efficient entry and screening technologies to process incoming passengers”.

Ryanair not experiencing booking changes due to European heatwave: Group CEO

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said the carrier is not experiencing changes in booking habits due to the ongoing heatwave in Europe. Mr O’Leary stated: “In fact, if anything over the last two or three weeks we’ve seen stronger demand ex-Ireland, ex-UK, of people trying to get the hell away from the unseasonably high rainfall we’ve had… It gives me even more confidence for sustained growth in Mediterranean holidays over the next decade”.

ACI Africa president: ‘Africa continues to be vulnerable to external shocks’

ACI Africa president and Aeroportos De Moçambique chairman and CEO Emanuel Chaves stated the global economy “continues to face a number of challenges in 2023”, adding that increased inflation is the “greatest economic threat”. Mr Chaves stated: “Uncertainty regarding a swift recovery of the aviation industry remains omnipresent, especially in the near term” and added: “With a continued reliance on international travel, Africa continues to be vulnerable to external shocks”.

Southwest Airlines revamping 2024 schedules to reflect post-pandemic demand changes: CEO

Southwest Airlines president and CEO Bob Jordan reported the carrier is revamping its 2024 flight schedules to “reflect post-pandemic changes to customer travel patterns”. Mr Jordan stated the carrier expects its network optimisation efforts and market development will contribute approximately USD500 million in incremental pre-tax profits in 2024.

Cyprus Airways CEO: A220 will help to absorb delays and deliver better service

Cyprus Airways CEO Paul Sies, via his official LinkedIn account, stated “Over the last couple of months we have worked tirelessly on a project to upgrade and renew our aircraft fleet”. Mr Sies said: “We are now days away from welcoming the advanced [A220] aircraft in our fleet”, adding: “This will undoubtedly help us to offer a superior onboard travel experience to our passengers whilst improving our operational efficiency and environmental sustainability efforts”. Mr Sies noted: “With our new aircraft coming on-line we will have more opportunities to absorb delays and deliver a better service to our guests”.

AASA CEO: ‘Governments are not always in agreement’ with SAATM

Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO Aaron Munetsi commented on the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative, stating: “Governments are not always in agreement with the concept”. Mr Munetsi added: “Those countries with their own national carriers are reluctant to sign any agreements that facilitate sharing routes for fear of having to share revenue with stronger carriers”.

AirPlus International CEO: Personal encounters remain important for company leaders

AirPlus International CEO Oliver Wagner stated personal encounters remain of fundamental importance for company leaders, despite business trips being questioned more. Mr Wagner said companies are increasingly orienting themselves to the wishes of their customers, but also to acceptance in society. He added travel managers have made good use of the low-travel period during COVID-19 to optimally prepare their companies for the comeback of business travel, in particular in terms of sustainability and duty of care.

United Nigeria COO: Increasing airfares in Nigeria are ‘inevitable’

United Nigeria COO Mazi Osita Okonkwo stated he expects Nigerian airlines to gradually increase airfares by 10% to 20% “if not more” in response to increasing costs and devaluation of the naira against the US dollar. Mr Okonkwo said: “Airfare review is inevitable. It is something that must happen for anybody to keep afloat”. He added: “With inflation and difficulty in transportation, any airline including our airline is already looking at how to amelio­rate the sufferings of our workers. So, obviously, wages will rise and operating costs will rise. The only source of revenue for airlines is just the fares and I think it is something that is inevitable, but I don’t know when”. Mr Okonkwo also commented: “You also have to be careful not to discourage the travelling public because everybody is suffering”.

Hawaiian Airlines SVP: A321 fleet availability to be impacted by P&W engine issues

Hawaiian Airlines SVP revenue management and network planning Brent Overbeek, via the carrier’s 2Q2023 earnings call, reported it will “likely be a few more quarters” until the carrier’s entire A321 fleet is available for deployment. This follows Pratt & Whitney’s announcement that a “significant portion” of the PW1100G-JM engine fleet will require accelerated removal and inspections due to manufacturing issues.

easyJet Holidays to expand into France and Germany following Switzerland launch: CEO

easyJet Holidays CEO Garry Wilson said the package holiday provider will “probably” expand into France and Germany “quite quickly” after its service launch to Switzerland in coming weeks. easyJet holidays recorded a profit before tax of GBP49 million in Q3FY2023 and is expected to deliver a profit before tax of GBP100 million in FY2023.

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