Soundbytes: your weekly travel and aviation industry insights

16 June, 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. 

Air New Zealand CEO: 'The pandemic taught us to panic slowly'

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran stated: "The pandemic taught us to panic slowly", adding: "We became good at assembling a group of people at short notice and taking it day by day". Mr Foran said: "You've got to keep your people engaged because they're tired. You're asking them to roll their sleeves up again and again and get on with it, so they need to feel like their leaders are on the frontline with them, and they have the right resources and tools to do their job". He added the staff attrition rate has improved since 2020, noting: "Staff engagement is critical. We feel we've got the staff not only in numbers, but we've got them engaged with the purpose of the business and what we stand for".

IATA director general: Airline industry has moved into profitability

IATA director general Willie Walsh stated the latest data shows passenger traffic at over 90% of 2019 levels, adding: "Airports are busier, hotel occupancy is rising, local economies are reviving, and the airline industry has moved into profitability". Mr Walsh said: "Margins are, however, wafer thin. With USD803 billion of revenues, airlines will share USD9.8 billion in net profit this year". He added: "Put another way, airlines will make, on average, USD2.25 per passenger", noting: "Clearly that level of profitability is not sustainable. But considering we lost USD76 per passenger in 2020, the velocity of the recovery is strong".

Qantas CEO: fewer seats ‘translate to more space for each customer’ on Project Sunrise jets

Qantas has unveiled the entire cabin design for the A350-1000 aircraft to operate nonstop 'Project Sunrise' services from Sydney to New York and London in late 2025. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said: "Reducing the number of seats onboard our A350 to 238 compared to the 300-plus seat layout of other carriers means we not only maximise aircraft performance across long distances, we give our passengers more space and comfort... fewer seats translate to more space for each customer and a dedicated Wellbeing Zone for travellers to stretch, help themselves to a snack and spend time out of their seat".

US DoT Secretary: Decision to reinstate Mexico safety rating to be politically independent

US Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg reported a decision to reinstate Mexico's Category 1 safety rating would be "independent of any economic, commercial or political consideration". As previously reported by CAPA, the US FAA downgraded Mexico to Category 2 in May-2021, prohibiting Mexican carriers from adding new US routes or frequencies.

Royal Air Maroc CEO: Africa’s aviation industry ‘has to be developed by African airlines’

Royal Air Maroc CEO Abdelhamid Addou reported the carrier plans to grow its aircraft fleet as it prepares to expand its network amid increased Morocco tourist arrivals. Mr Addou stated Royal Air Maroc is exploring "many new routes", primarily across Africa, Europe and the Americas, with fleet growth a key component of the carrier's expansion plans. Mr Addou noted the potential of Africa's aviation industry is "very large and has to be developed by African airlines".

Capital A CEO: The Philippines can reach nine million annual tourists

Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes stated the Philippines can reach nine million tourists p/a, with air service development and airport infrastructure commitments from government and the private sector. Mr Fernandes said: "We do believe that we can increase regional connectivity across AirAsia's Filipino hubs and really bring ASEAN into the Philippines. At Capital A, we plan to fast-track our investments in the Philippines... We're seeing a huge pent up demand for travel, which gives me a huge amount of confidence. I think our strength is that we are also very strong in secondary and tertiary cities and in providing connectivity. So that is adding growth".

Azores Airlines CEO 'very optimistic about the privatisation'

Azores Airlines CEO Teresa Gonçalves stated she is "very optimistic about the privatisation" of the carrier, underlining: "We are in a very favourable geographical position, which is attractive". Ms Gonçalves said the prospects of the sale have been improved due to the emergence of interested parties, including European airlines, private equity funds and companies such as travel agencies.

RwandAir CEO: Air transport development under SAATM progressing slowly

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo stated air transport development in Africa under the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative is happening slowly. Ms Makolo noted there should be a focus on the implementation of necessary measures by a group of willing nations. Ms Makolo said: "If you're waiting for all countries to come to the table, you'll be waiting for a long time".

Air Arabia Group CEO: supply chain challenges are ‘getting worse, not better’

Air Arabia Group CEO Adel Al Ali stated the carrier reduced its network expansion plans and is experiencing increased costs as global supply chain issues delay aircraft maintenance. Mr Al Ali reported aircraft engine maintenance shop visits can currently take up to six months, compared to the typical 60 days, noting supply chain challenges are "getting worse, not better".

TUI Germany CEO: Bookings exceed 2019 levels in recent weeks

TUI Germany CEO Stefan Baumert stated demand is high and bookings "in the last few weeks are above 2019 for the first time". Mr Baumert noted the trend towards short and medium haul destinations has increased again, with Greece, Mallorca and Antalya particularly popular.

flydubai CEO: Summer 2023 to be 'busiest ever'

flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith reported the carrier is expecting summer 2023 to be "the busiest ever so far" and is "fully prepared" to meet increasing travel demand. Mr Al Ghaith stated the carrier plans to operate seasonal services to nine destinations from 21-Jun-2023, including Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini, Tivat and Dubrovnik.