Your weekly travel and aviation Quote-a

11 January, 2018

The Blue Swan Daily brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.

Qantas Airways chairman Leigh Clifford renewed criticism of the airline's foreign ownership cap:

"It could make it harder to fund a fleet overhaul and purchase ultra long haul aircraft. We haven't got a particular need at the moment, but at some stage we're going to have to dramatically renew the fleet. At some stage we're going to have to replace the [Airbus] 380s ... and [CEO] Alan [Joyce] has talked of the challenge we've put out to Airbus and Boeing for long range aircraft. Well, these don't come cheaply. We're marketing Qantas as a stock to the world, and when we reach up near that cap it discourages foreign purchases of shares. I can understand why people would be concerned by foreign control, and we're not ever suggesting that, but I think Qantas needs to have scope such that foreign buyers can buy Qantas shares".

airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss on results for 2017:

"2017 was a tremendous year for airBaltic - we opened 13 new destination... We will continue to work hard in 2018 to keep up the great results and service. We have already announced at least seven new destinations in 2018 and we will continue our fleet modernisation".

Brussels Airlines CEO Bernard Gustin on proposed amendments pertinent to EU Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004:

"An airline cannot be responsible for everything. It is not an insurance company. Sometimes, other players in the supply chain and even external factors like weather are to blame". Mr Gustin warned against setting up regulation to encourage claims. "The regulation must also be proportionate", he said, adding: "There is no link between the damage and compensation".

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes on 99.99% of AirAsia Berhad shareholders voting to approve the formation of AirAsia Group Berhad:

"This would enable the investors to understand the company better going forward. We would hopefully consolidate all of our ASEAN [affiliates] very soon. Thailand being the next, hopefully. It is a first step in terms of creating AirAsia into one economic unit. So, our dream is, AirAsia could own 100 per cent of all the ASEAN associates and then all the shareholders are aligned".

Vistara CEO Leslie Thng on the carrier's promoters evaluating a potential bid for Air India:

"Our promoters are keeping an open mind on Air India (divestment). They are seeing if there is a business case (for buying AI)", Mr Thng said. He however added: "At this point, the focus and priority for both the promoters is to scale up on Vistara that is why we are seriously committed to expanding beyond the 22 aircraft for which we have a firm order. We are also planning to expand into international markets".

AirAsia India CEO Amar Abrol on international expansion being impacted by capacity shortages at Indian airports:

"Entry into a market is driven by a couple of factors, it should make economic sense for us and we do it with a long-term plan. Right now Mumbai is slot constrained. Very honestly, there is no place to land or take off. We will get to Mumbai as and when the infrastructure allows". Mr Abrol also noted the need to have a meaningful presence at Mumbai to support its international aspirations.